The world’s second largest pharmaceutical firm has now officially withdrawn from the lethal injection drug trade, imposing strict distribution controls to prevent its drugs reaching execution chambers across the US.
In a strong statement released this afternoon, global giant Pfizer confirmed its opposition to the misuse of its medicines in American executions and its commitment to block all sales for that purpose.
This is a critical turning point in the history of capital punishment in America. From today, all FDA-approved manufacturers of all potential execution drugs – a diverse group of 25 global companies – have blocked their sale for use in executions.
As the biggest and best-known supplier, Pfizer’s announcement cements the mainstream pharmaceutical industry position on lethal injection executions. It reflects widespread unease about the procedure, and raises fundamental questions about the administration of the death penalty in America.
Pfizer’s investors played a role in its decision. One major shareholder – the New York State’s pension fund, the third largest in the US – has repeatedly raised fiscal and legal concerns following ‘botched’ procedures in states like Ohio and Oklahoma.
“Pfizer’s actions cement the pharmaceutical industry’s opposition to the misuse of medicines. Over twenty-five global pharmaceutical companies have taken action to prevent the misuse of their medicines in executions; with Pfizer’s announcement, this will mean that all FDA-approved manufacturers of all execution drugs have spoken out against the misuse of medicines in lethal injections and taken steps to prevent it.
“Instead of passing secrecy laws intended to undermine the safeguards put in place by these companies, executing states should respect the legitimate commercial interests of the pharmaceutical industry and agree to stop misusing their medicines in lethal injection executions.”
Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty Team