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April 10 2011 | INDIA

India/USA

Indian company "Kayem" halts American death rows' supplies of execution drug

 
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Reuters

Indian company halts U.S. sales of execution drug

LOS ANGELES, April 8 - An Indian company that supplied an anesthetic used to execute murderers on death row has stopped selling the drug for use in capital punishment because it goes against the "ethos of Hinduism."

The move by Mumbai-based Kayem Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd comes as several U.S. states have scrambled to find supplies of sodium thiopental, one of three drugs used in lethal injection, which has been in short supply since a U.S. manufacturer stopped making it earlier this year.

Kayem sold sodium thiopental to Nebraska last year, according to the anti-death penalty group Reprieve. The group had planned a press event on Thursday in Mumbai to protest Kayem's sale of the drug.

But before that could happen, Kayem revealed that it has changed it policy, setting out its reasons in a statement on its website.

"We ... voluntarily refrain" from selling this drug where the purpose is purely for lethal injection and its misuse," the firm said, added that the drug for executions went against the "ethos of Hinduism."

Hinduism is the predominant religion in India. Followers believe in the circle of life, death and rebirth.

A U.S. representative for Kayem and a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services could not be reached for comment.

There has been a shortage of sodium thiopental throughout the United States, since the former U.S. supplier, Illinois-based Hospira Inc., announced in January that it would stop making the drug.

The company had faced European Union pressure over a facility in Italy where it had planned to manufacture the drug.

Ohio and Oklahoma have switched to pentobarbital for executions, and Texas was set to follow suit in an execution scheduled for Tuesday, which was halted by a temporary stay.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents last month seized Georgia's supply of sodium thiopental, citing questions about how the state had obtained the drug.

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