The Copenhagen-based pharmaceutical company Lundbeck has refused to submit testimony to a US court opposing the use of its drugs in executions.
The legal charity Reprieve, acting on behalf of capital defence lawyers in Alabama, has asked the company to submit an ‘amicus curiae’ ('friend of the court') brief to Alabama’s Supreme Court, voicing opposition to the use of Lundbeck-produced pentobarbital in the execution of Jason Williams which is set for 19 May 2011, and confirming that this use of the product is untested.
Reprieve says the drug has been adopted without scientific or medical consultation and is recognised to be particularly dangerous. It requires pentobarbital to be used in combination with pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. The combination has been explicitly outlawed by vets for the practice of animal euthanasia.
Reprieve reports that Lundbeck has so far refused to take this action, even though the company could help to stave off the increasing use of its products in US execution chambers – something to which it has claimed to be ‘adamantly opposed’ and to be doing 'all they can' to prevent.
Maya Foa from Reprieve said: “It is hard to see why Lundbeck would not take this straightforward opportunity which could help to save a life. With increasing numbers of US states using Lundbeck’s drugs to kill people, surely this is the very least they could do.
“There is still time for Lundbeck to change their mind and take this simple step. If they continue to refuse, their company ‘code of ethics’ will not be worth the paper it’s printed on.”
Lundbeck has been criticised by both Reprieve and Amnesty International who believe that ‘end user’ agreements would provide a means of preventing importers from selling the drug to prisons for use in executions.