Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Danish company supplies drug for death penalty in the U.S.

The European Union frowns on the death penalty and almost all European countries have banned state- sponsored killing. In Denmark, the last time the death punishment was meted out was in 1892 and the Scandinavian country completely abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 1978. Despite the ban on the death penalty in Denmark, a Danish pharmaceutical company, Lundbeck, supplies a drug used for the death penalty in the U.S.

H. Lundbeck A/S, commonly known as Lundbeck was founded in 1915 and became pharmaceutical in 1924. The research-based company produces a drug called pentobarbital which is used for executions in the U.S.

According to The New York Times, Lundbeck has sold pentobarbital to four major U.S. executioners: Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. The Lundbeck-produced drug has replaced sodium thiopental which was once the drug of choice for the U.S. killing machine.

Italy, Austria, Germany and Britain have stifled the supply of sodium thiopental which was widely used for executions in the U.S. Due to the limited supply of sodium thiopental, U.S. executioners have switched to Lundbeck-produced pentobarbital.

Amnesty International has called on the European Commission to stop the trade in torture and death penalty equipment. You're encouraged to sign the petition urging the President of the European Commission, José  Manuel Borroso, to effectively ban the trade in "tools of torture" by European companies. This would go a long way to prohibit the use of pentobarbital produced by Lundbeck for executions in the U.S.

Lundbeck claims the death penalty is against what the company stands for. If this is the case, the company should take concrete steps to ensure that its drug is only used to safe life as it was intended, not claim life.

A legal action charity known as Reprieve notes that Lundbeck is the only supplier of pentobarbital in the U.S. The organization has repeatedly slammed Lundbeck for not doing enough to keep its drug out of death chambers. The execution of Jeffrey Moths on 6 May 2011 in South Carolina brought the number of persons killed in the U.S. with the drug supplied by Lundbeck to seven. The Danish company has apparently chosen big business over respect for human life.

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