Danish Drug Company Petitions States to Stop Using Drug for Executions

Lundbeck Inc., a Danish pharmaceutical company with U.S. headquarters in Illinois, has asked Oklahoma and Ohio not to use pentobarbital in the two states’ upcoming executions. As the sole U.S. manufacturer of the drug, Lundbeck Inc. opposes the use of its product in executions because the purpose of the company is to “improve people’s lives.”  In a statement issued last week,the company’s spokesperson, Sally Benjamin Young, affirmed the company’s opposition to the use of pentobarbital, saying, “This goes against everything we’re in business to do.” Ohio and Oklahoma, the latter of whom has already used the drug as part of a three-drug combination, said they had not received any letter from the company and were unable to comment.

Lundbeck Inc. does not directly supply its products to end users and cannot directly stop the two states from using pentobarbital in upcoming executions. States across the country have been scrambling to find suitable drugs for executions following a shortage of sodium thiopental, the first drug administered in the majority of executions, and an announcement by the drug’s sole U.S. manufacturer, Hospira Inc., that production of the drug has ceased. Regardless of what states choose to do in the coming months, whether they switch to a one-drug execution solution or a new three-drug concoction, it will certainly require an extended process, as the constitutionality of the new procedures is addressed.

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