WASHINGTON - July 15 - The
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty today released a report entitled
"Drug Companies and Their Role in Aiding Executions" and called upon
the nation's manufacturers and distributors of lethal injection drugs to take
steps to prevent their drugs from being used in executions conducted via lethal
"Drug Companies and
Their Role in Aiding Executions" traces the history and present use of lethal
injection drugs in executions, reports on what can go wrong during the lethal
injection process and lists the companies that produce lethal injection drugs,
their corporate officers and their contact information.
The report also discusses
medical guidelines regarding doctor participation in executions and the prescribing
of drugs for executions and gives examples of how lethal injection drugs are obtained
by prison officials. Finally, the report contains 10 recommendations that manufacturers
of lethal injection drugs should implement to make sure that their products are
not used in executions.
"This report will educate
the public about the role pharmaceutical companies play in the execution process,"
said NCADP Executive Director Steven W. Hawkins. "We hope to engage the corporate
sector in a productive dialogue about ways to prevent their products from being
used to take human lives."
Hawkins said the report
has two immediate goals: to convince pharmaceutical companies to speak out against
the use of their drugs in executions and to take steps to prevent their products
from falling into the hands of prison officials who oversee executions. Already,
one leading manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories, Inc., which manufactures sodium
thiopental, has issued a statement requesting "that this product not be used
in capital punishment procedures.
"It is important to
understand that the three drugs used in the lethal injection process are prescription
drugs," Hawkins said."One of the drugs is a controlled substance and
the other two are 'prescription only.' It is a violation of medical ethics for
doctors or other medical professionals to prescribe drugs for the purpose of conducting
an execution. But if these drugs are not being prescribed, then how are prison
officials obtaining them?"
Of the 38 death penalty
states in the U.S., 37 use lethal injection as the sole or optional method of
execution. "Drug Companies and Their Role in Aiding Executions" discusses
problems that have accompanied lethal injection executions, including the lack
of suitable veins, clogged intravenous lines and incorrect dosage levels that
can cause the first lethal injection drug (sodium thiopental) to wear off while
the others take effect.
Hawkins noted that use of
lethal injection has its roots in Nazi Germany, which used the process to put
thousands of people to death. The minority of countries around the globe that
have retained the death penalty increasingly are following the U.S. example and
switching to lethal injection. These countries include Guatemala, the Philippines,
and the United Arab Emirates. China, which leads the world in executions, recently
announced its intention to follow the U.S. model and switch to lethal injection.
"The increasing use
of lethal injection makes this issue just not relevant to the domestic United
States but of concern to human rights activists around the globe," Hawkins
said. "It is fundamentally a human rights issue and pharmaceutical companies
that produce lethal injection drugs must be held accountable for the use of their
products. We urge these companies to take immediate steps to stop their products
from being used to kill human beings."
The seven publicly-held
companies targeted by NCADP include Abbott Laboratories, Inc., based in Abbott
Park, Ill.; American Pharmaceutical Partners, Inc., based in Los Angeles; AmerisourceBergen,
based in Chesterbrook, Pa.; Baxter International Inc, based in Deerfield, Ill.;
Cardinal Health, based in Dublin, Ohio; Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, based in St. Davids,
Penn; and Gensia Sicor Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Irvine, Ca.
To read "Drug Companies
and Their Role in Aiding Executions," please visit www.ncadp.org/html/report.htm
To download a print-friendly
version of the report, please visit www.ncadp.org/assets/applets/report.pdf
The National Coalition
to Abolish the Death Penalty was founded in 1976 and is the only fully-staffed
national organization devoted specifically to abolishing the death penalty. NCADP
is comprised of more than 100 local, state, national and international affiliates.