24 May 2011

#SmilesC Answer 6

The compound is called sodium thiopental ...
... and it is so controversial because it is used to kill people.
image from, US executions delayed by shortage of death penalty drug
The controversy surrounding the drug has been perpetuated by the Charity- Reprieve who ran a campaign
Death Penalty: Stop Lethal Injection Project timeline
-that led to the change of the law in the uk - see, The Export Control (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2011, so that the substance can no longer be lawfully exported from the UK.
However, the gap in the market has been filled by Lundbeck and so the controversy continues ...
Update 1st June 2011. The story given by me so far would be completely one sided without refering to, Lundbeck's position regarding the misuse of pentobarbital in execution of prisoners
"Lundbeck is dedicated to saving people’s lives. Use of our products to end lives contradicts everything we’re in business to do. Lundbeck is opposed to the use of its product for the purpose of capital punishment."
"Lundbeck markets pentobarbital solely for its approved use, among other things to treat serious conditions such as a severe and life threatening emergency epilepsy. The annual frequency of status epilepticus in the United States is estimated to be between 126,000 and 195,000 events, with up to 42,000 deaths yearly, though the incidence may be higher due to underreporting. Doctors have described pentobarbital as the ultimate gold standard in North America for controlling seizures in patients with refractory status epilepticus when other medications fail. The use of this product to carry out the death penalty in US prisons falls outside its approved indications. Lundbeck does not promote pentobarbital for use in lethal injections or any other unapproved use."
"We have engaged in a constructive dialogue with human rights advocates to discuss and evaluate ideas to prevent the incorrect use of our product for lethal injections. We have carried out a thorough assessment of ways to prevent distribution for use in capital punishment."
"However, Lundbeck does not control the application of pentobarbital. Based on our evaluation and the advice of external experts, we have concluded that there are no viable steps Lundbeck can take to prevent end-users from obtaining the product for unapproved use, short of withdrawing the product from the market. However, taking pentobarbital off the market would be a tragedy for the many patients who benefit from legitimate uses of this important therapy."
Lundbeck have more to say on the matter in their corporate responsibility webpages (link above), particularly with regard to their 'end user agreement'. They think that it would be a waste of time to put one on the box/vial as this would be (and could be legally) ignored.

Thanks are due to Lundbeck's courtesy in replying to emails about this issue.

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