Kayem had sold sodium thiopental to America until this week—when the company's managing director learned of the anesthetic's death-row purpose
The controversy over lethal injection as a method of execution escalated today when a pharmaceutical company in India announced that it would no longer supply a crucial drug to death-penalty states.
The company's decision was a major victory for opponents of the death penalty in the U.S., which had lobbied the company and Indian authorities, and leaves capital-punishment states and the federal government with no immediate supplier of the drug, sodium thiopental, an anesthetic.
The Indian company, Kayem, has already sold thiopental to Nebraska and South Dakota, and had been approached by 13 other states to buy it, the company's managing director, Navneet Verma said in a telephone interview from Mumbai, where the company is located.
Earlier today, the company announced on its website that it would no longer sell the drug for lethal-injection purposes:
In view of the sensitivity involved with sale of our Thiopental Sodium to various Jails/Prisons in USA and as alleged to be used for the purpose of Lethal Injection, we voluntary declare that we as Indian Pharma Dealer who cherish the Ethos of Hinduism ( A believer even in non-livings as the creation of God) refrain ourselves in selling this drug where the purpose is purely for Lethal Injection and its misuse.
Mr. Verma said in the telephone interview he had not been aware that the drug was being used for executions until he received a letter from Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, a British human rights organization that has been at the forefront of an effort to block companies from selling sodium thiopental for execution purposes.