Posted at 09:54 AM ET, 09/28/2011

In Florida execution, Danish company Lundbeck demands its drug not be used

In the week since the execution in Georgia of Troy Davis, who had convinced hundreds of thousands of people that he was innocent but failed to win his court appeals, America’s death penalty has been back in the spotlight.

Manuel Valle. (AP)
Many people have been passing around a story of the youngest person ever to be executed, a 14-year-old boy who 66 years ago was threatened into a confession, given ice cream after he confessed, then put in the electric chair with straps and electrodes too big for him. Attention also has been directed to Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is due to be executed in Iran for not recanting his faith in Jesus Christ. And still others are pointing to what critics call Texas’s “dumb” decision this week to ban last meals for death row inmates.

Those discussions reflect what could be some change in public opinion toward the death penalty after Troy Davis. The sentiment may be shared by companies, too, as the Guardian reports that a Danish drug firm is demanding the state of Florida not use its anesthetic in a Thursday execution.

Staffan Schuberg, president of Lundbeck, which manufactures pentobarbital under the trademark named Nembutal, has written to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to urge the drug not be used.

The use of Nembutal in an execution “contradicts everything Lundbeck is in business to do—provide therapies that improve people's lives,” Schuberg wrote.

Experts have said that the untested drug could cause extreme suffering for prisoners as they die.

While Lundbeck now limits sales of Nembutal to prisons or corrections departments in the U.S., several states have already stockpiled it.

The drug is being increasingly used since a U.S. manufacturer suspended supply of the anesthetic sodium thiopental, also saying it didn’t want that drug used in executions.

Unless there is a last-minute stay, Nembutal will be administered at 3 p.m. Thursday to Manuel Valle, who was convicted of the 1989 murder of a police officer.

It will be Florida's first use of the drug as part of a lethal injection.

By  |  09:54 AM ET, 09/28/2011

Tags:  National, death penalty, Florida, lethal injection, Troy Davis

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company