Pfizer bans use of its drugs in lethal injections

Pfizer joins a wave of companies restricting the supply of drugs that could be used to carryout capital punishment.

Courtesy of: Reuters (Archive)
Courtesy of: Reuters (Archive)

After Pfizer's move in banning drugs used for capital punishment, authorities will find it difficult to carry out the death penalty.

The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has banned use of its drugs in lethal injection, a move seen by many as a milestone in the movement against stopping the practice of capital punishment.

"We are enforcing a distribution restriction for specific products that have been part of, or considered by some states for, their lethal injection protocols," the New York-based drugmaker said on its website. "Pfizer strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment."

The move shuts off the last remaining easily-available source of drugs used in capital punishment, following similar actions by more than 20 US and European drug makers.

The list of products includes the powerful aesthetic propofol, the drug that caused the death of pop superstar Michael Jackson.

Pfizer's distribution restriction limits the sale of its seven products to a select group of wholesalers, distributors, and direct purchasers under the condition that they will not resell these products to correctional institutions for use in lethal injections, the company said.

Pfizer said it offers the products because they save or improve lives, and markets them solely for use as indicated in the product labelling.

Many states in the US have been finding it hard to find drugs to go ahead with the capital punishment, since the pharmaceutical companies, mostly European, restricted supplies.

Capital punishment debate & dislike of big pharma firms

As every major publication around the world picked up the news, a clear divide emerged on social media between those who support capital punishment and those who don't.  

Guess work also started on how capital punishment will be carried out with a few wondering if firing squads would be called to do the job..

Many developing countries continue to use the hanging method to carry out the death penalty, despite a growing wave of criticism in the west against the practice.

While news media outlets were praising the move, people generally remain sceptical on the intentions of big pharmaceutical firms. The high price of drugs, which effects almost everyone in the world, seems to be a bigger problem than capital punishment by lethal injections.

TRTWorld, Reuters