A London- based company, Dream Pharma Ltd, has been revealed today (6 January 2011) as the UK source of all three drugs which are used to execute prisoners in the US.
The legal charity Reprieve has released a copy of an invoice from Dream Pharma which records the supply of the lethal drugs sodium thiopental, potassium chloride and pancuronium bromide to the Arizona State Prison on 28 September 2010. The quantity of drugs supplied was sufficient to kill at least 10 prisoners and one, Jeffrey Landrigan, was executed on 26 October 2010. It appears that the sodium thiopental was sold at a mark-up of around 1000 per cent over the normal US price.
Reprieve said today (6 January) that the State of Arkansas also bought drugs from the UK, though the precise quantity is not yet known. It also claims that on 4 January 2011, an additional 1,042 vials of sodium thiopental (sufficient to execute 85 prisoners) which had been imported from the UK, were released to California by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Reprieve says it believes this was sourced from Dream Pharma, although the company has declined to confirm the fact, or produce the invoices.
Meanwhile, says Reprieve, the government has acted with “unacceptable sloth.” A month after Reprieve originally wrote to him, the Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary Vince Cable (apparently only after being pressed by litigation) then banned the export of sodium thiopental in late November.
Cable was informed by Reprieve on 16 December that a UK company had exported two other execution drugs (pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride) to the US, and called on him to impose an immediate export ban on these drugs. He has has yet to act.
Reprieve has also asked various pharmaceutical companies to assist in preventing their drugs from being used for executions. Hameln Pharmaceuticals Ltd has been the only company to do so and has taken urgent action to ensure that its drugs will not be used for executions.
Reprieve has condemned “the irresponsible attitude taken by most pharmaceutical companies” and has called upon them to voluntarily establish an industry code to ensure that their drugs are used only for the benefit of patients and not for executions.