Denmark bans Marmite but not Danish execution drugs

May 25, 2011

In response to reports that the Danish Government has banned Marmite, legal action charity Reprieve is calling for them to take real action against a Danish pharmaceutical company which is providing lethal injection drugs to the US.

Pentobarbital (also known as Nembutal) supplied by Copenhagen-headquartered firm Lundbeck has so far been used in 11 executions. This number will grow as more states turn to the Danish company’s drugs in order to carry out executions. Reprieve has asked both the Danish Government and Lundbeck to act to prevent the use of their drugs in lethal injections, but so far neither has taken effective action to put a stop to this. Reprieve Investigator Maya Foa said:

“It seems incredible that the Danish Government is capable of banning a harmless spread, but not of taking real action to stop a Danish firm’s drugs being used to deliberately kill people. “Denmark must put real pressure on Lundbeck, or risk a Danish firm becoming the US executioner in chief.”

ENDS Notes to editors 1. For further information please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0)20 7427 1082 / 07791 755 415 2. Reprieve has suggested a range of possible courses of action to Lundbeck to put a stop to the use of its drugs in executions – a briefing on the issue can be found here: 3. So far, Lundbeck’s drugs have been used in 11 executions across 6 US states, as follows: Alabama: Jason WilliamsMississippi: Benny Stevens, Rodney GrayOklahoma: John David Duty, Billy Don Alverson, Jeffrey MatthewsOhio: Johnnie Baston, Clarence Carter, Daniel BedfordSouth Carolina: Jeffrey MottsTexas: Cary Kerr These numbers are set to grow as more and more states are turning to Lundbeck’s drugs following shortages of the previously-used anaesthetic sodium thiopental. 4. Danish pension fund Unipension recently sold their shares in Lundbeck, citing concerns over their use in executions and the company’s unwillingness to engage with investors on the issue. Unipension told the Associated Press: “It has not been possible for Unipension to get a detailed report regarding Lundbeck’s efforts to ensure that its products are not used in an unwanted manner […] It has been our impression that Lundbeck did not want to engage in a genuine dialogue with us as an investor.”