Danish manufacturer of lethal injection drug twice asked Scott not to use it to kill prisonersby Dara Kam | July 27th, 2011
The Danish manufacturer of the controversial drug now being used to execute prisoners pleaded with Gov. Rick Scott twice to abandon its use, saying it “contradicts everything we are in business to do.”
Staffan Schüberg, president of Lundbeck Inc., wrote to Scott twice before the first-term governor signed his first death warrant ordering Manuel Valle to be executed on Aug. 2.
“We are adamantly opposed to the use of Nembutal to execute prisoners because it contradicts everything we are in business to do – provide therapies that improve people’s lives,” Schüberg wrote to Scott on May 16.
On Monday, the Florida Supreme Court stayed the execution of Manuel Valle until Sept. 1 and ordered a hearing on the new protocol. Attorney General Pam Bondi yesterday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate the stay.
The evidentiary hearing on the drug is scheduled for tomorrow morning in Miami.
As in other states, Florida Department of Corrections officials were forced to stop using the anesthetic sodium thiopental after its manufacturer stopped making the drug used as the first of the three-drug cocktail in lethal injections.
DOC issued a new protocol with the replacement drug pentobarbital sodium, also known as Nembutal, on June 8.
That same day, Schüberg wrote another letter to Scott, again asking him not to use the drug.
“The use of pentobarbital outside of the approved labeling has not been established. As such, Lundbeck cannot assure the associated safety and efficacy profiles in such instances. For this reason, we are concerned about its use in prison executions,” he wrote.
In his first letter, Schüberg said he had written to DOC officials urging them not to use the drug but had not received a response.
State Corrections Secretary Ed Buss said in an interview with The News Service of Florida on Tuesday that he had confidence in the drug as part of the state’s injection protocol and didn’t find the drug company’s concern particularly problematic.
“I don’t think you’ll find any drug company that would advocate for their drugs being used in executions,” Buss said. “That’s just a reality.”