Intermarkets' Privacy Policy
Spending Addict Promises To Go Cold Turkey. But First, One More Sweet, Sweet Hit. [Andy] | Main | Open Thread/Open Blog
January 22, 2011

Company Halts Production of Death Penalty Drug

This has been slowly bubbling into the major media, though it's been coming for a long time. Hospira, the sole U.S. company that makes sodium thiopental, one of the drugs used for lethal injections, has announced that it will produce no more. Hospira has objected in the past to use of the drug for capital punishment, but claims to regret having to end production because the anesthetic has legitimate medical uses in hospitals.

Hospira said it decided in recent months to switch manufacturing from its North Carolina plant to a more modern Hospira factory in Liscate, Italy. But Italian authorities demanded a guarantee the drug would not be used to put inmates to death - an assurance the company said it was not willing to give.

"We cannot take the risk that we will be held liable by the Italian authorities if the product is diverted for use in capital punishment," Hospira spokesman Dan Rosenberg said. "Exposing our employees or facilities to liability is not a risk we are prepared to take."

Italian Health Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

All but one of the 35 states that employ lethal injection use sodium thiopental. In nearly every case, they use it as part of a three-drug combination that sedates and paralyzes the inmate and stops the heart.

. . .

In the fall, states including Arizona, Arkansas, California and Tennessee turned to sodium thiopental made in Britain. That supply dried up after the British government in November banned its export for use in executions.

Arizona, California, Kentucky, Ohio, and Oklahoma have had delays because of shortages, which will no doubt become worse when the small existing supply expires this year. Switching to a new drug will certainly provoke another round of legal challenges, despite the Supreme Court's recent rejection of the "cruel and unusual" argument.

Long-time readers of the blog know that I oppose capital punishment in most cases, though not on any bogus constitutional "cruel and unusual punishment" grounds. Drug shortages seem to me to be another contrived roadblock to lethal injection.

There is an elaborate legal dance to execution in this country. Carrying out a sentence of death has become a secular ritual, with exacting requirements for timing, procedure, and participants. Even judges who uphold the death penalty seem to add to these requirements, making it in fact harder to complete executions. That's really what the shortage worries are about. Hospira has upset the ritual.

I never understood the hand-wringing over whether a drug or a procedure could be found to kill that is relatively quick and painless because it seems to me that thousands of veterinarians employ such a drug every day. Unless you're now going to tell me that they've actually been torturing our elderly animals to death, the drug problem seems to have a pretty common-sense solution.

Indeed my home state still has some common sense:

Oklahoma has gone a different route, switching to pentobarbital, an anesthetic commonly used to put cats and dogs to sleep. The state has conducted two executions with that drug.

Pentobarbital is also used in Oregon's physician-assisted suicides, as well as legal suicides in the Netherlands and (until it was banned) Australia.

digg this
posted by Gabriel Malor at 11:10 AM

| Access Comments

Recent Comments
CN: "218: True ..."

Hairyback Guy: "With all the rigamaroll and mamajamma about the Pr ..."

Dr Spank: "Great article on the Russia hoax with the recent E ..."

BO's third term underway: "207 In 2020, with Antifa taking over parts of citi ..."

Jane D'oh: "Guy, two words: ear plugs ..."

Sniffin' Joe: "114 Prayer request: We are hosting a birthday slee ..."

Cannibal Bob: "No doubt I'll be back there again soon. Posted ..."

Martini Farmer - Civilly Disobedient: "212>> You too? ..."

hogmartin: "[i]thanks for all the prayers and I do have adult ..."

Guy Mohawk: "thanks for all the prayers and I do have adult bev ..."

CN: "Nice to see Front Page ridiculing Durham. ..."

AltonJackson: " [i]Here's a good song for calm during a sleepove ..."

Recent Entries

Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64