German doctors: No death drugs to US

2011-01-24 22:43

Berlin - Germany's leading medical association called on Monday on the nation's pharmaceutical companies to refrain from selling a drug used in lethal injections to the United States.

Frank Ulrich Montgomery, vice president of the German Medical Association, told The Associated Press on Monday the nation's doctors are throwing their support behind a call by the health ministry for German drug companies and distributors to reject US requests for the drug, sodium thiopental.

"We are calling on the German pharmaceutical industry to send a clear signal that it recognises its ethical responsibility and refrain from selling any drugs to the United States that could be used in carrying out the death penalty," Montgomery said.

"This is not about money, but ethical principles," he added.

Last week the sole US producer of sodium thiopental - which is used as part of a three-drug combination for lethal injections in 35 states - said it was ceasing production due to objections by authorities in Italy, where the company had been making it.

Several states started facing shortages in the fall, causing them to search abroad for sources of the drug. One source dried up in November when the British government banned exports of sodium thiopental for use in executions.

Planned executions in the US.states of Arizona, California, Kentucky, Ohio and Oklahoma are currently facing delays or disruptions, due to the shortage.

Over the weekend, Germany's health ministry said Minister Philipp Roesler wrote a letter to the nation's pharmaceutical companies urging them to ignore any possible US requests for deliveries of the drug.

Germany, along with Italy and Britain, banned capital punishment after World War II.

In 2008, the European Union issued a declaration against the death penalty and has lobbied for its abolition worldwide.

  • wvongruning - 2011-01-25 00:00

    I wonder if in another hundred years we will, as a world still have capital punishment at all or for that matter prisons, or whether we will have evolved technological means of detecting and correcting potential criminals before they can actually commit any crime. It seems to me that we must first find this technology and then educate public opinion away from its present obsession with punishment by demonstrating that the new methods work, pointing out the futility and waste of present penal methods, especially imprisonment and execution.

      maxanansi - 2011-01-25 09:52

      You thought 1984 was a how-to manual, didn't you? While I agree that our present systems, world-wide, are flawed, attempting to prevent someone from committing a crime by detecting and correcting them before the time is just a doorway to thought-policing. At the risk of sounding paranoid, that's just one step away from removing human free-will entirely, at which point we may as well just give up.

  • Blackstone - 2011-01-25 07:09

    Sodium thiopental is the induction agent to put the person to sleep before the lethal drugs are administered. It was used for many years in normal anaesthetic practice. There are so many other options, why get hung-up over this one drug ?

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