US execution drug's ban

Germany urges EU export ban of US execution drug

Germany is pushing for the European Union to impose an export ban for a lethal injection drug used in several U.S. states, the country's human rights commissioner said Friday.

While an export ban by the EU's 27 member nations of sodium thiopental for cases when it could be used for executions has not been agreed upon yet, Markus Loening said he has now asked the drug to be put on Germany's list of goods that need the government's consent before exportation.

"We have to make sure that no drugs from Germany or the EU will be used to carry out executions," Loening said in a statement.

Several U.S. states face supply shortages after the sole American producer ceased production of the drug that is used as part of a three-drug combination for lethal injections in 35 states.

The drug is still produced in Europe, where it is used as an anesthetic.

Capital punishment is banned within the EU, and anti-death penalty sentiment is strong in Germany.

Loening's statement came in reaction to Thursday's execution of 46-year-old William Glenn Boyd through lethal injection in Alabama. The human rights commissioner said he "deeply regrets the execution."

The chances of any German company exporting the drug to the U.S. are already slim.

Health minister Philipp Roesler wrote a letter to the nation's pharmaceutical companies earlier this year urging them to ignore any possible U.S. requests for deliveries of the drug — a call that was swiftly endorsed by the German Medical Association and the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies.

The three companies producing or distributing sodium thiopental in Germany — Nycomed GmbH, Inresa GmbH and Rotexmedica GmbH — then told The Associated Press they had no agreements to export it to the U.S. and would refuse to sell the drug to the U.S. if asked.

The British government banned exports of sodium thiopental for use in executions in November.

(Published by Washington Examiner - April 1, 2011)

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