October 1, 2022

Danish company stops supplying Nembutal for US executions

A Danish company which manufactures a lethal drug used to execute American prisoners has announced that it will stop supplying it to prisons. Lundbeck’s epilepsy drug Nembutal (or pentobarbital) has been used in 12 executions since late last year after access to sodium thiopental, another lethal drug, was restricted.

A Danish company which
manufactures a lethal drug used to execute American prisoners has announced
that it will stop supplying it to prisons. Lundbeck’s epilepsy drug Nembutal (or
pentobarbital) has been used in 12 executions since late last year after access
to sodium thiopental, another lethal drug, was
restricted.

Until now Lundbeck’s position was
that it was powerless to restrict Nembutal’s use and that stopping production would
harm epileptics. However, after a great deal of bad publicity, it has decided
to impose “end user clauses” which should
stop it from reaching execution chambers. Its CEO has also written letters to
prison authorities and governors stating that the drug is not safe for use in
lethal injections.

Seven executions with Nembutal are
currently scheduled in several states, but lawyers are sure to cite the letter to
block them. Deaths by lethal injection may grind to a halt in the US.

At least in jails. What will not stop is the use of Nembutal for suicide
and assisted suicide. Paradoxically, Lundbeck now says that it “cannot assure the
associated safety and efficacy profiles” for the drug for executions – but it
is still being used in Oregon, Washington state and Switzerland to help
patients die legally. It is also touted as the suicide drug of choice by
Australia’s best-known euthanasia activist, Dr Philip Nitschke. ~
Atlantic, June 8


Michael Cook