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Sole U.S. manufacturer of death penalty drug decides to ‘exit the market’

HospiraFrom The New York Times‘s “States Face Shortage of Key Lethal Injection Drug“:

The sole American manufacturer of an anesthetic widely used in lethal injections said Friday that it would no longer produce the drug, a move likely to delay more executions and force states to adopt new drug combinations.

The manufacturer, Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., had originally planned to resume production of the drug, sodium thiopental, this winter at a plant in Italy, giving state corrections departments hope that the scarcity that began last fall would ease.

But the Italian authorities said they would not permit export of the drug if it might be used for capital punishment. Hospira said in a statement Friday that its aim was to serve medical customers, but that “we could not prevent the drug from being diverted to departments of corrections” and the company did not want to expose itself to liability in Italy.

Hospira does not have domestic facilities that can make sodium thiopental, said Daniel Rosenberg, a spokesman, and has decided to “exit the market.” No other American companies manufacture the drug, which has largely been supplanted by alternatives in hospitals but is used by 34 of the 35 states that use lethal injection to carry out the death penalty. An average of 55 executions have taken place annually over the last 10 years, with 46 last year and 52 in 2009, virtually all of them by lethal injection.

Yet more evidence for how broken and out of step with modern thinking Kentucky’s death penalty is.

Photo: Courtesy Hospira Inc.

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