Texas to execute mentally disabled prisoner using Lundbeck drugs

June 21, 2011

Texas is set to execute a man who has been assessed as ‘intellectually disabled’ today [21 June], in defiance of a US Supreme Court ruling that such practices are unconstitutional.Milton Mathis, who has been assessed as having an IQ of 62 – well below the widely accepted threshold of 70 – will also be the 16th prisoner to be killed in the US using lethal injection drugs supplied by Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck.The execution is expected to go ahead, despite both the Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling that the execution of those with ‘mental retardation’ (or intellectual disability) violates the ban on ‘cruel and unusual punishment’, and Lundbeck’s recent announcement of plans to restrict the use of the Nembutal it produces in US executions.Reprieve spokesperson Donald Campbell said: “This appalling case shows just how urgent the need is for Lundbeck to restrict the flow of their drugs to US death chambers. Lundbeck’s announcement of plans to act is encouraging but until they do so, more of their lethal drugs will find their way into US death rows and the veins of their prisoners.”ENDSNotes to editors1. For further information please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0)20 7427 1082 / (0)7791 755 4152.2. Pentobarbital – also known as Nembutal – produced by Lundbeck is being used in executions by an increasing number of US states which have switched to the drug following domestic shortages of the until-recently widely used anaesthetic sodium thiopental. Legal action charity Reprieve has suggested a range of possible courses of action Lundbeck could take to put a stop to the use of its drugs in executions.3. So far, Lundbeck’s drugs have been used in 15 executions across seven US states, as follows:Alabama: Jason Williams, Eddie PowellMississippi: Benny Stevens, Rodney GrayOklahoma: John David Duty, Billy Don Alverson, Jeffrey MatthewsOhio: Johnnie Baston, Clarence Carter, Daniel BedfordSouth Carolina: Jeffrey MottsTexas: Cary Kerr, Gayland Bradford, Lee Andrew TaylorArizona: Donald Beaty4. Lundbeck told Reprieve on Monday 6 June that they were reconsidering their position, but have yet to take concrete steps to restrict supply. Further information can be found here: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/2011_06_06_Lundbeck_meeting_Wiinberg5. A petition from leading doctors to Lundbeck can be viewed here: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/lundberg-stop-supplying-drugs-for-us-death-rows.html