15 May 2016

It just got harder to kill people legally

Pity the poor American executioner. Not bad enough that there's all these anti-capital punishment liberals trying to put him out of a job, but now the pharmaceutical companies are conspiring against him.

Most U.S. states still exercise the death penalty and most use lethal injection to dispatch their victims. Unfortunately for the killer states, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced this week that it has imposed extensive controls on the distribution of its products to ensure that none are used in lethal injections, thus shutting down the last open-market source of drugs used for executions. Distributors must certify they will not resell the drugs to corrections departments and will be closely monitored. Pfizer joined over two dozen American and European drug companies who have, for moral or business reasons, already adopted similar restrictions.

According to Maya Foa of Reprieve, a London-based human rights advocacy group, "All FDA-approved manufacturers of any potential execution drug have now blocked their sale for this purpose. Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injection."

Some states have used straw buyers or imported drugs not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (only to have them seized by federal agents) or bought supplies covertly from loosely regulated pharmacies that will tailor-make products. Other states are simply delaying executions. Some are considering other methods of execution: electrocution, gas chambers, hanging or even firing squads. Professional killers can never be faulted for a lack of ingenuity.

What, one wonders, is the world coming to when an honest executioner has to metaphorically hang out on street corners trying to score drugs. It almost sounds criminal.

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