No drugs – no execution!

The u.S. Is desperately searching for a substitute for the first of the three lethal injection drugs. If they do not find it, the death machine will have to be stopped

The usa has a problem. Ok, the usa has many problems, but rarely do they have positive effects. This one already: the u.S. Is running out of poison for its death chambers after illinois-based hospira took the only anesthetic approved for that purpose, thiopental, off the u.S. Market. Therefore, in most states, executions must be suspended for the time being. At least until a substitute is found. A narcotic nembutal pentobarbitone sodium (pentobarbital) from the lundbeck company, based in denmark, is currently being discussed for this purpose; the preparation has already been used in three executions.

Human rights organizations are calling for international protests against lundbeck to stop the company’s misuse of its drug in death chambers in the u.S. U. A. The german network against the death penalty initiated the petition no lundbeck preparations for executions in the usa, which offers a possibility to address the protest against the business with murder on behalf of the state directly to the company, or rather its subsidiary in hamburg. Its headquarters in hamburg. The signatures are to be collected on. December, human rights day, in hamburg-harburg.

From july 1967 to december 1976, there were no executions in the u.S. Because of several pending petitions to the u.S. Supreme court regarding the principle of permissibility. After a fundamental revision of the death penalty laws in the individual states, it was finally declared permissible and the moratorium was lifted on 17 december. January 1977 ended with execution in utah. Since then, 1.246 people moved from life to death by state order, 465 prisoners executed in texas alone.

Currently, there are approximately 3.330 prisoners on death row in the u.S., including 337 in texas, 697 in california, and 222 in pennsylvania, including african-american journalist mumia abu-jamal, who was sentenced to death in 1982 for allegedly murdering a police officer based on blackmailed testimony and doctored records. The request for retrial was irrevocably denied by the supreme court, and an appeals court in philadelphia is currently considering the sentence: life imprisonment without parole or execution. There are also 106 death row inmates serving time in georgia, including. A. Troy davis, who, like mumia abu-jamal, was sentenced to death without evidence for allegedly killing a police officer. Recently, the supreme court also denied the motion for a new trial in his case. Thus all legal possibilities are exhausted – and troy davis will be acutely threatened with execution in the near future. Currently, georgia does not execute due to a lack of approved anesthetic, but authorities have expressed their intention to use lundbeck’s substitute in the future. As soon as it is officially approved, the death machinery will start rolling again. Not only in georgia ..

According to the human rights organization amnesty international (ai), 350 people were sentenced to death in the u.S. Between 1900 and 1985 who were later proven innocent. 23 of them were found innocent only posthumously. By 2007, a total of 15 death row inmates in the u.S. Had been acquitted based on new dna evidence.

No one can say how many people have been executed or are currently on death row because of an intentional or unintentional miscarriage of justice, who like mumia abu-jamal and troy davis have been denied the right to a fair trial, who have been made guilty and sentenced to death through fabricated evidence or extorted confessions.

Among the most famous traps in the united states are karl fontenot and tommy ward, who in the early 1980s in the small village of ada. One of the two had told the officers a dream as a crime scene, after he was brutally prered for hours in the verhor and only wanted that to stop. The famous crime novelist john grisham speaks of a nightmare. Both are still in jail today. The journalist robert mayer wrote the crime novel based in the usa "dreams of ada" see.

Grisham says that during his active time as a criminal defense lawyer he was not aware of how many wrongful convictions were made and how many people were executed because of them. In his novel "the prisoner" he describes the true case of ron williamson, a mentally ill man who was innocently sentenced to death for murder and later rehabilitated based on dna analysis. By then, however, williamson was so ill – from the side effects of the drugs he was given, u. A. Strong psychotropic drugs, as grisham suspects – that he could not enjoy his freedom much longer. Grisham actively advocates the freedom of fontenot and ward.

The lethal injection has become the preferred means of death

The death penalty is imposed in 34 of the 50 u.S. States, but not carried out in some of them. On 7. December 1982, lethal injection was used for the first time in texas. This method is now primarily practiced, though some states offer "alternatives" to this: hanging, shooting, gassing or electric chair. One method as cruel as the other, especially in terms of execution. This "alternatives" however, they cannot be imposed by the state, but must be expressly requested by the prisoner.

The lethal injection consists of a three-stage cocktail of poisons. With the first injection, an anesthetic is administered so that the delinquent loses consciousness. In the second step, breathing is overridden and finally the heart is stopped. In some states, e.G. B. Ohio, there is a one-drug lottery, ie.H. An overdose of anesthetic is administered to cause the death of the prisoner.

Dual use of an anesthetic as a means of death

The executions are very strongly regulated by a so-called protocol, and not just any pharmaceutical products were allowed to be used, but only very specific. The only anesthetic approved to date is the barbiturate thiopental from the illinois-based company hospira. However, this was withdrawn from the market by the manufacturer at the beginning of 2011 due to international protests. The drug was originally developed as an anesthetic for operating rooms. The company is "company is far from happy that the anesthetic has found its way onto death row, said its spokesman", emphasized its spokesman dan rosenberg.

In march 2010, the company also informed the relevant authorities in ohio, and in january of this year, hospira announced that it was withdrawing the drug completely from the us market, after initially considering producing it in italy.

The u.S. Initially tried to fill the shortage with thiopental from the swiss company sandoz, which was purchased through a british pharmaceutical distributor. Fda health agency stocked up on thiopental for 100 executions. Stupidly, the importation of prescription drugs is banned in the u.S. As a result, the drug enforcement administration (dea) seized georgia’s entire supply of sandoz thiopental in march 2011. This incident will have to be dealt with by the courts.

The states of oklahoma and ohio came up with the idea of using pentobarbital as an alternative. This is produced in the usa exclusively by the company lundbeck. According to the product description, the drug was used as a sedative, as a sleeping pill for short-term treatment of sleep disorders, or as an anticonvulsant. B. Designed for epileptic seizures and for use in localized deafness. In the usa it is also used in veterinary medicine as an anesthetic.

Lundbeck is a global pharmaceutical company with subsidiaries in 50 countries around the world, u. A. The usa, where pentobarbital is manufactured, and the frg (hamburg-harburg), where drugs for the treatment of diseases of the central nervous system (cns) are distributed. The drugs are registered and approved in 90 states.

Headquarters of lundbeck is denmark. This makes the company a target of protests by international human rights organizations, including. A. Ai and reprieve, a global organization headquartered in london that focuses on death row prisoners, because denmark is part of the eu and the european parliament is committed to universal respect for the death penalty:

After the signing of protocol no. 13 to the european convention on human rights (echr), all member states of the european union (eu) are committed to the permanent abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances.

Eu guidelines on the death penalty

Anders schroll, lundbeck’s pr man: "we can do nothing."

This confession of the european parliament collides with the business of the danish concern with the executioners in the overseas. Lundbeck says it has signed the united nations global compact against the death penalty. This is according to a letter sent by lundbeck-germany to several people who had complained on its website about the use of pentobarbital as a death drug in the u.S. In addition, lundbeck also informed the relevant authorities in ohio that it does not agree with the use of pentobarbital in executions.

Meanwhile, as requested by ai and reprieve, the company refuses to include an end-user clause in the sales contracts preventing resale to the relevant institutions and medical facilities responsible for the executions. Pr man anders schroll explained: "if we take the product off the market, we put people’s lives at risk. We can do nothing."

"Lundbeck does not control the distribution of this product, which is widely used and available through a variety of channels, including wholesalers, various distribution points and customer groups, and hospitals, which then make the product available to the end user", mads kronborg, the parent company’s press officer, explained in an email to an anti-death penalty activist when asked how lundbeck planned to stop the use of its drug in death chambers.

Kronberg sees the only really effective possibility in removing the drug from the us market altogether. But that would not be in the interest of the many patients who depend on this medicine.

Medical experts fear that the drug will not serve its purpose and that the delinquents will be subjected to additional torture during the execution. Lawyers are trying to legally stop the use of this anesthetic, which has not been tested in human medicine. It was used three times anyway, and one execution in texas was briefly halted by the supreme court because the justices followed the medical profession’s reasoning.

More and more states are expressing their desire to use the drug, oklahoma and ohio have already used it in executions, arizona, mississippi and texas have announced their intention to use it, and now georgia has followed suit. Lundbeck is poised to become the sole supplier of anesthetics to the death chambers of all u.S. States where the death penalty is imposed and carried out.

The protest against lundbeck is not a mere pastime, but an effective means to prevent executions in the u.S. – even if only preliminarily. There is a desperate search for replacements. And wherever the authorities seem to get involved, they are confronted with manufacturing companies that do not want to be associated with lethal injections. The last known attempt by the u.S. To obtain substitute drugs from the indian company kayem may not be successful either. On the one hand, kayem is not registered and licensed to produce thiopental in the u.S., but on the other hand, the company already announced that it would not be involved in the sale of its drug "to hold back", if it was to be acquired exclusively with the intention of use in lethal injection.

"The usa is obviously in urgent need of lundbeck", sophia jager of the network against the death penalty told telepolis. "If we succeed in prering the danes to actually effectively stop the sale to the us death chambers, then we will have powerfully thrown sand into the gears of the death machinery. For each prisoner concerned, this means a period of reprieve, which can be used for judicial interventions, clemency petitions, or protest actions. The quite controversial debate in the usa about the death penalty was also given a new impetus.

However, the responsibility for preventing the misuse of lundbeck’s pentobarbital lies not only with the opponents of the death penalty, but also with the eu. Brussels has to ask itself how credible its much-vaunted commitment to worldwide respect for the death penalty is when it stands idly by while european companies are involved in the business of murder on behalf of the state."

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