Press conference today in Mumbai:
April 6, 2011
Lawyer Sophie Walker discusses the export of Indian manufactured drugs to the US for use in executions by the Mumbai pharmaceutical wholesaler Kayem Pharma, and other Indian companies
Press Conference: 11am Thursday 7th April, Mumbai Press Club, Mumbai
Speakers: Sophie Walker, US Attorney, Reprieve and local partners
Reprieve lawyer Sophie Walker will discuss the consequences of India’s role in the administration of the death penalty in the USA.
Kayem Pharma has today made the excellent decision not to export any more drugs to the US. The press conference will therefore focus on possible consequences for other potential exporters of sodium thiopental, and how Kayem can help repair the damage done by the export of these drugs.
In many states, the approved execution protocol in the United States requires the use of sodium thiopental (also known as thiopental sodium and pentothal) to anaesthetize the victim, before pancuronium bromide paralyses the muscles and potassium chloride stops the heart.
The only U.S. licensed manufacturer of sodium thiopental, ceased production of the drug forcing prisons to source their drug overseas.
Kayem Pharma sold sodium thiopental, an anaesthetic, to Nebraska prisons in late 2010, knowing the drugs would be used for the purposes of executions.
Carey Dean Moore will be the first prisoner to be killed in Nebraska with Indian drugs, following over thirty years on death row
Before turning to India, various U.S. states had bought drugs from a small British pharmaceutical company, Dream Pharma Ltd. Since Dream Pharma made these sales, there have been various developments:
1. All major drug companies in Europe confronted with the issue have condemned the use of their life-saving drugs to execute people
2. The UK government has banned the sale of Sodium Thiopental to the U.S.
3. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has impounded the Dream Pharma drugs in various states, because it was apparently imported improperly.
4. All imports of sodium thiopental into the US violate regulations promulgated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
5. Litigation involving Dream Pharma’s products is now pending in several states, concerning the apparent inefficacy of the drugs in three consecutive executions. This litigation is expected to continue for at least a decade in the immensely expensive American legal system.
6. Dream Pharma has received overwhelmingly negative publicity, including four appearances on the prestigious BBC Radio 4 “Today Programme” in the space of one month
7. Matt Alavi, the head of Dream Pharma, who originally believed his company could make a profit from the sale of drugs for executions, has determined that such sales are economically damaging to his company
Even if the drugs are efficacious when they leave India, the UK experience shows that there are complications in shipping and handing of these drugs. In three consecutive executions, the anaesthetic has failed to work, causing excruciating pain to the condemned prisoner. Reprieve believes this has resulted from the degradation of the imported drugs during shipping.
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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Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900 Registered Company No. 5777831 (England) Registered Office 2-6 Cannon Street London EC4M 6YH; Chair: Lord Ken Macdonald QC; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Martha Lane Fox, Gordon Roddick, Richard Rogers, Ruth Rogers, Jon Snow, Marina Warner, Vivienne Westwood