Lundbeck refuses to investigate safety of new lethal injection procedure using Lundbeck-produced drugs; Cleve Foster set to die on Tuesday with experimental procedure

April 1, 2011

Danish pharmaceutical manufacturer Lundbeck has today refused to assist the defence team of Cleve Foster, who is due to die on Tuesday with Lundbeck drugs, by providing a basic scientific report.

Reprieve had written an urgent letter to Lundbeck’s Chief Executive, Ulf Wiinberg, asking for the company to investigate the safety of Texas’s new lethal injection procedure involving Lundbeck-produced pentobarbital. A report from Lundbeck on why the method is unsafe could be decisive in preventing Cleve’s execution and stopping states like Texas from using the experimental method.

In the letter, Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith writes:

“Mr Foster’s execution will be historic – for all the wrong reasons. The Texas Department of Corrections intends to carry out an experiment on Tuesday, mixing three drugs that have nevef been used together in clinical procedures and – without conducting a single controlled trial – injecting the cocktail directly into the veins of a living human being.”

Lundbeck representatives repeatedly insist that the company is doing “all it can” to prevent the use of its drugs in executions. Yet Lundbeck’s management has now refused two opportunities to take meaningful action on the issue. First, executives refused to insert straightforward ‘end-user’ agreements into their supply contracts, due to concerns about what their customers might think. Second, Chief Executive Ulf Wiinberg has failed to provide a simple report on whether the company believes the new execution procedure is safe.

Lundbeck will soon be the primary supplier of execution chambers across the US, after a shortage of anaesthetic sodium thiopental forced Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Ohio to switch to pentobarbital. As the sole manufacturer of the drug in the US, Lundbeck is now responsible for potentially hundreds of deaths across the country. In Texas alone, seven executions are slated for August, with Cleve Foster due to die on April 5.

Clive Stafford Smith said:

“Lundbeck has a clear obligation to prevent the State of Texas experimenting on Cleve Foster with Lundbeck’s pentobarbital, and yet the company’s management has refused to provide the most basic assistance to lawyers fighting to save his life. Lundbeck’s credibility is fading by the day and its public statements on this issue now appear increasingly hollow. Sadly, the company’s management appears to lack courage, or principles, or both.”

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 27 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve has represented, and continues to represent, a large number of prisoners who have been rendered and abused around the world, and is conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’


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