States face mounting difficulties with performing executions after Lundbeck's refusal to sell pentobarbital to prison authorities
The future of capital punishment in the United States was thrown into some disarray Friday when the company supplying a critical anesthetic used in lethal injections announced that it was taking steps to bar its drug from being used for that purpose.
Declaring that it was "dedicated to saving lives," and that using its products "to end lives contradicts everything we are in the business to do," the company, Lundbeck, which is located in Denmark, said that it will require anyone to whom it sells its anesthetic, pentobarbital, to sign an agreement that it will not be sold on to prison authorities in death penalty states. The drug is also used in treating epilepsy.
The effects of Lundbeck's action will be far-reaching, said Maya Foa, a researcher at Reprieve, who has held several meetings with senior Lundbeck officials. Until today, Lundbeck had said that it could not control what happened to its pentobarbital after it sold it to wholesalers. Now, other pharmaceutical companies will no longer be able to make that argument, she said.