A few days ago, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced a ban on the use of their drugs for capital punishment in the United States. This decision was picked up by American newspaper The New York Times, where the company stated that the manufacture of their products is intended to enhance the lives of patients, and that it strongly opposes their use as lethal injections. It also revealed that they will impose strict controls to prevent distributors selling the drugs to state corrections agencies.
Thus, the 32 states that still have the death penalty will not be able to access these types of drugs, since Pfizer were the last company to provide them. From now on they will be obliged to resort — as they have been doing to combat increasing problems with supply — to drugs in alternative markets or abroad to carry out the executions. They could also opt for other methods, such as execution by firing squad, which was reinstated in the state of Utah in 2015.
In recent months, the media have announced that some States have even resorted to the illegal drug market. (El País, 14-05-2016).
The debate on the death penalty has reopened after the recent disastrous execution in Oklahoma of prisoner Clayton D. Lockett, who due to an error on administration of the lethal injection, was still convulsing and moaning 43 minutes later. The prisoner eventually died of a massive heart attack, tied to the gurney.
According to witnesses in McAlester penitentiary (Oklahoma), Lockett suffered brutal convulsions and writhed in the bed while trying to undo the restraints.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.