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States Buying Lethal Injection Drugs From Back Room of London Driving School

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States are looking overseas for the cocktail of drugs used in lethal injections after American pharmaceutical manufacturer Hospira pulled out of the market.

Investigative journalist Raymond Bonner reports that drug companies in Denmark, Germany, Austria, and England are now stepping in to fill the gap for death penalty states left in the lurch.

Even though the European Union bans capital punishment...Danish company [Lundbeck] is not the only European corporation to supply drugs to American death penalty states. A British company, Dream Pharma, has sold sodium thiopental, an anesthetic, to several states and it has been used in four executions in recent months, in Georgia and Arizona. German and Austrian pharmaceutical companies are also looking at the American capital punishment market.

I looked a bit further into Dream Pharma, after this bit piqued my interest:

Last July, Dream Pharma sold 50 vials to the Georgia Department of Corrections for $5.81 a vial, according to department documents. The company quickly discovered that American death penalty states were desperate, and that it had a virtual monopoly. Two months later, Dream Pharma more than doubled the price, selling it to Arizona for $12 a vial. California paid three times that, or $35 a vial, in November.

Then, Bonner noted that Dream Pharma operates out of the back room of a driving school. Huh? No way. Really?

Um...well, uh...yes, actually:

Now, not that the death penalty is pretty by anyone's estimation, pro or con. Though, one would like to believe that the process, rightly or wrongly, is somewhat more clinical-seeming and buttoned-up than this.

In response to a lawsuit filed by a British-based human rights organization, Reprieve, to block Dream Pharma's exportation of thiopental, one of the cocktail of three drugs used for executions, the British government "effectively prohibited the export as Reprieve had requested."

Bonner explains that "Death penalty states have now turned to an Indian company, Kayem. Very little is known about the company or its quality control standards, but Nebraska has purchased enough of the drug for 166 executions."

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As they say, when opportunity knocks, answer. Especially if the one doing the knocking can land you a government contract.
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