Thursday, December 2, 2010

U.K. Bans Export of Execution Drug

The U.K. has inserted itself into the death penalty debate in the U.S. Lethal injection is the primary method of execution in the 35 states that have the death penalty. In each of those states, whether using a three drug method or a one drug method, sodium thiopental is a primary execution drug.

The problem for some states is there is a shortage of sodium thiopental. The only American manufacturer of the drug, Hospira, Inc., won't have any until 2011. As a result some states have looked overseas for the drug.

Tennessee carried out an execution using sodium thiopental obtained from a British company. The U.K. has banned the death penalty. The last execution in England was carried out in 1973. The U.K. cannot reinstated the death penalty as a result of joining the European Council of Human Rights.

The British government took action to prevent further export of sodium thiopental for purposes of execution. "This move underlines this government's and my own personal moral opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances without impacting legitimate trade," Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable said this week after issuing the order that thiopental must be licensed for export, meaning companies shipping the drug overseas will be required to prove it is intended for medical use, not execution, reported the Wall Street Journal.

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