Pfizer just became the last pharmaceutical company to block the use of its drugs in lethal injections.
This means that there are no more FDA-approved manufacturers that will supply the drugs used in lethal injections for the death penalty, The New York Times reports.
“Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injection,” Maya Foa, the director of the death penalty team at the human rights group Reprieve told The Times.
In the last few years, drug companies have started blocking their drugs from being used as part of the death penalty. But these drugs also have other medical uses, which can make it tricky to keep them from making into state prisons who still carry out the death penalty and to keep them from used for that purpose.
Pfizer says it opposes using the drugs for the death penalty.
“Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve, … [and] strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment,” the company said in a statement to The Times.
Still, many drug companies have succeeded in limiting the use of their drugs, which is why many states have started turning to compounding pharmacies, who can make the drug combinations themselves. Compounding pharmacies are typically used so patients can get alternative versions of existing medications, and they have less oversight than branded and generic pharmaceutical companies that need to get their products approved by the FDA.
The move could make it tougher for states to acquire the drugs for the purpose of lethal injections. Others, however, warned the Times that it could also lead to states using more secretive, potentially unsafe sources such as compounding pharmacies or from non-FDA-approved manufactuers from outside the US.
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