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January 21, 2011

US company, pressured by Italy, suspends production of lethal injection drug

As detailed in this new AP story, which is headlined "US drug maker discontinues key death penalty drug," a notable new corporate decision could have a great impact on future plans for lethal injection executions.  Here are the basics:

The only U.S. manufacturer of a key lethal injection drug is discontinuing the drug's production because Italian authorities wanted a guarantee that it wouldn't be used to put inmates to death — a decision that could disrupt executions in states already struggling with a shortage of the drug.

Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., said Friday that it had decided to switch manufacture of the anesthetic from its North Carolina plant to a Hospira plant in Liscate, outside of Milan, in Italy. But Italian authorities insisted the company control the product's distribution all the way to the end user to guarantee it wouldn't be used in executions.

After discussions with Italian authorities, with Hospira wholesalers and within the corporation, Hospira decided it couldn't make that promise. "Based on this understanding, 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," company spokesman Dan Rosenberg said. "Exposing our employees or facilities to liability is not a risk we are prepared to take."

Sodium thiopental is already in short supply, and any batches Hospira had manufactured were set to expire in March. That means the decision to halt production could in turn disrupt or delay executions across the U.S.... The company's Italian plant was the only viable facility where Hospira could manufacture sodium thiopental, Rosenberg said.

The current shortage of the drug had disrupted executions in Arizona, California, Kentucky, Ohio — which nearly ran out last spring — and Oklahoma.

In the fall, states including Arizona, Arkansas, California and Tennessee turned to a British manufactured source of sodium thiopental. But that supply dried up after the British government in November banned its export for use in executions.

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

January 21, 2011 at 03:31 PM | Permalink


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Ask any heroin addict if phenobarbital works to take away the pain of withdrawals. It doesn't.

Posted by: George | Jan 21, 2011 7:20:57 PM

We do not care about the opinions and threats of Eurotrash fops. Their combination of idiocy and arrogance about it know no bounds.

The laws should be amended to allow execution with a bullet to the back of the head with the gun duct taped at point blank against the skull and a big arrow painted on the gun, This End to the Head, so the worthless government incompetent cannot miss.

Or use that great gizmo in No Country for Old Men.

The Captive Bolt Gun


These methodological arguments are in bad faith, pretextual, and smell of Euro shortage of showering facilities.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 21, 2011 11:21:50 PM

Well, I am not buying a single thing from Italy any more.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 22, 2011 3:30:45 PM

next time we will send our sailors in a different direction

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Jan 23, 2011 4:08:40 AM

Lol. Comments are getting to parody level.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 23, 2011 9:52:51 AM

Claudio: If you believe in sovereignty, and respect between nations, this Italian threat interferes with internal US affairs, at a state level.

In Italy, there is a very healthy, ongoing death penalty. It is for brave investigatory judges and prosecutors. Your government cannot even protect its own high officials from the criminals it favors. Your government, lazy, do nothing today, maybe tomorrow worker culture wants no hair touched on the head of criminals. They generate government jobs. Victims generate nothing and may rot. This rent seeking is so deep courageous judges and their innocent families are sacrificed for it. We do not want this Euro rent seeking culture infecting the USA.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 23, 2011 11:20:06 AM

Suppie?? Did you forget again to take your medicines this morning??

Posted by: claudio giusti, italia | Jan 23, 2011 11:26:34 AM

Hey Supremacy, if you care so much about "sovereignty and respect between nations," surely you respect Italy and Britain and other countries' rights to regulate the manufacture and sale of drugs within their borders. Or is America the only country whose sovereignty demands respect?

Posted by: dm | Jan 23, 2011 8:05:51 PM

lol...sounds to me this time the govts attitude of fostering the industrial sector's process of moving jobs OVERSEAS bit the govt onthe ass!

"Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., said Friday that it had decided to switch manufacture of the anesthetic from its North Carolina plant to a Hospira plant in Liscate, outside of Milan, in Italy."

Looks to me like the company was gonna close the plant in north carolina....to one of their plants in italy probalby becasue the cost and regulations were chepater and esier there...and then once the decision to close the american plant was made the italian govt said...NO can't do that if you can't keep the drug from being used ilegally... i.e. not as prescribed by a licensed PHYSICAN.

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 23, 2011 9:06:21 PM

Thank you very much for keeping me up to date.

Posted by: Health Blog | Jan 26, 2011 7:15:38 AM

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