Indian drug-maker stops sales of 'lethal injection' drug to US news
08 April 2011

Indian drug-maker Kayem Pharmaceuticals today said that it will stop selling thiopental sodium, an anaesthetic, and one of three drugs used in lethal injections, to US jails, as it goes against the ''ethos of Hinduism.''

International human rights and anti-capital punishment campaigners were planning to step up pressure on the Mumbai-based pharma firm, urging it to stop selling the drug to American states that used it to execute death row prisoners.

Reprieve, a UK-based legal action charity, opposed to capital punishment, was planning to extend the campaign to India. Sophie Walker, an American lawyer and Reprieve activist, was to have discussed the consequences of India's role in the administration of the death penalty in the US in Mumbai. ''But Kayem Pharma has today made the excellent decision not to export any more drugs to the US,'' said a Reprieve spokesperson.

In many American states, the approved execution protocol requires the use of sodium thiopental (also known as thiopental sodium and pentothal) to anaesthetise the victim, before pancuronium bromide paralyses the muscles and potassium chloride stops the heart.

The only US licensed manufacturer of sodium thiopental, stopped production, forcing prisons to source their drug overseas. According to Reprieve, Kayem Pharma sold sodium thiopental to Nebraska prisons in late 2010, knowing the drugs would be used for the purposes of executions.

The company, however, claims it was not aware how the drug would be used and an employee, who had not revealed the end-user purpose, has been sacked. It sold about 500 gm of the drug to state authorities in Nebraska and South Dakota.

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Indian drug-maker stops sales of 'lethal injection' drug to US