Lundbeck Inc., a Danish pharmaceutical company that is the sole manufacturer of pentobarbital for sale in the U.S., is facing an ethical dilemma regarding the use of its drug in executions. Pentobarbital is increasingly being used in the U.S. in place of sodium thiopental for lethal injections. Pentobarbital was most recently used in executions in Texas, South Carolina, and Mississippi. Andrew Schroll, a spokesman for Lundbeck, said that the company has prided itself on making products that improve people’s lives. Denmark and the entire European Union, as well as Lundbeck, are officially opposed to the death penalty and disagree with how this product is being used. Schroll said, “This is a misuse of our product. We are in an ethical dilemma where we are opposed to the use of our medication for capital punishment while at the same time we want to make sure that patients who benefit from our medication get access to it.” Lundbeck has sent letters to prisons in 11 states demanding that they stop using pentobarbital in their lethal injection protocols. No prison has responded, and even more states are intending to use the drug, including Virginia, which recently announced their switch.
(T. Schultz Europe fights the death penalty – with drugs, The Global Post, 13th May 2011.