Nathan Koppel posts, "Hospira to Stop Making Lethal-Injection Drug," at the Wall Street Journal.
The sole U.S. maker of a key execution drug has decided to permanently halt production of the drug, which could lead many states to face delay in carrying out the death penalty.
The decision made on Friday by Hospira Inc. caps months of controversy over thiopental sodium, an anesthetic that has long been used by states as a part of a cocktail of drugs administered during a lethal injection.
Hospira's decision puts a wrench in the nation's capital-punishment system. States can attempt to use another anesthetic in place of thiopental, but such a switch likely would need to be approved by courts and possibly state legislators.
Many states have run out of thiopental, forcing prison officials to delay executions. The drug shortage followed a 2009 decision by Hospira to suspend production due to manufacturing issues.
The Lake Forrest, Ill., company had planned to resume producing thiopental in the first quarter of 2011 at a company plant in Liscate, Italy. But in December, the Italian parliament issued an order binding the government to ensure that Hospira's Italian-made thiopental would not be used in lethal injections.
In the face of that opposition, Hospira ultimately decided to exit the thiopental market, said company spokeswoman Tareta Adams. "This will be a challenge for [medical] customers and we regret that," Ms. Adams said. "But we don't want to put our Italian facility at risk that the product will be misused" by U.S. prisons.
Hospira, she said, has had discussions with its drug distributors to see if the companies could block the drug from being sold to prisons, but Hospira ultimately decided there was no way to ensure the drug would not be "misused" by prisons.
The AP report is, "US drug manufacturer to discontinue production of key lethal injection drug," by Andrew Welsh-Huggins. It's via Google News.
The sole U.S. manufacturer of a key lethal injection drug says it's discontinuing the drug's production because it couldn't guarantee Italian authorities that it wouldn't be used in executions.
Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Illinois, said Friday that its plant in Italy was the only viable place where the company could produce sodium thiopental.
Hospira spokesman Dan Rosenberg told The Associated Press that Italian authorities insisted the company prove the drug would never end up being used by states to execute condemned inmates. Rosenberg said the company determined after discussions with Italy and Hospira wholesalers that it could not make such a guarantee.
"Hospira plots to block anesthetic from executions," is the Fierce Pharma Manufacturing post by George Miller.
Sodium thiopental maker Hospira says it is working to prevent use of the anesthetic in capital punishment. As the sole manufacturer of the drug in the U.S., the company is considering such tactics as selling it only through wholesalers and working with trading partners to restrict distribution to departments of corrections.
"We historically did not prohibit sales to departments of corrections or penitentiary hospitals because the product did have use in medical treatments or surgical procedures provided by these institutions," says Hospira spokesman Dan Rosenberg in an email. "The company for years has periodically advised corrections departments that it markets the drug "solely for medical use as indicated on the product labeling."
Rosenberg adds that this is Hospira's position globally.
Related posts are in the lethal injection index.