January 21, 2011

GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE! ITALY FORCES US DRUGMAKER TO DISCONTINUE KEY LETHAL INJECTION DRUG!

And there was much rejoicing around the world in, you know, the civilised nations, where we don't have the rather distasteful feeling of glee when somebody gets to put to death by the state....

... okay, unlesss you are a Republican in the United States, or a Mullah in Iran (no, wait, they still use stones there) and maybe China. And there are still other drugs used in executions. And the chair. And gas, but, oh, what the hell. I'll take what I can get on this Friday night.

And this one here, reported by AP, this one I'll take gladly.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The only U.S. manufacturer of a key lethal injection drug is discontinuing the drug's production because Italian authorities wanted a guarantee that it wouldn't be used to put inmates to death — a decision that could disrupt executions in states already struggling with a shortage of the drug.
Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., said Friday that it had decided to switch manufacture of the anesthetic from its North Carolina plant to a Hospira plant in Liscate, outside of Milan, in Italy. But Italian authorities insisted the company control the product's distribution all the way to the end user to guarantee it wouldn't be used in executions.

After discussions with Italian authorities, with Hospira wholesalers and within the corporation, Hospira decided it couldn't make that promise.
"Based on this understanding, we cannot take the risk that we will be held liable by the Italian authorities if the product is diverted for use in capital punishment," company spokesman Dan Rosenberg said. "Exposing our employees or facilities to liability is not a risk we are prepared to take."

Sodium thiopental is already in short supply, and any batches Hospira had manufactured were set to expire in March. That means the decision to halt production could in turn disrupt or delay executions across the U.S.

The company has long deplored the drug's use in executions, but said it regretted having to stop production. Hospira continues to make two other drugs that, in addition to medical uses, are also used by states for executions — pancuronium bromide, which paralyze inmates, and potassium chloride, which stop inmates' hearts.

The company's Italian plant was the only viable facility where Hospira could manufacture sodium thiopental, Rosenberg said.