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Ban on Export of Lethal Injection Drugs Called Today in Brussels

By John Disque

An immediate European-wide ban on the export of lethal injection drugs was called today in Brussels after British NGO Reprieve revealed that a UK based company, Dream Pharma, supplied the state of Arizona with the drugs needed for an execution.

According to Clive Stafford Smith, the director of British NGO Reprieve, which has been denouncing Dream Pharma's activities since last October, it has been confirmed that Dream Pharma has exported drugs to at least 4 states, and sufficient to kill more than 100 people.

"One of the frustrating aspects of this is that a week after we head off the British government to impose an export ban, Dream Pharma went ahead and exported another shipment of drugs sufficient to kill about 80 people. So we could have stopped that if only the government had moved quickly enough" Smith said."It is very important that the European Parliament acts very quickly and Europe commission because that's really the only way to stop drugs coming from anywhere else out Europe. Otherwise they can send it from Britain to other countries in Europe and then it goes on to America" He added.

Dream Pharma is a pharmaceutical company run by Matt Alavi. On January 6, Reprieve released documentary proof that the Acton-based company sold drugs to Arizona that were used in the execution of Jeffrey Landrigan on October 26th, 2010, and that will send many other prisoners to their deaths.

Mr Alavi sold 150 vials of sodium thiopental, 180 vials of potassium chloride, and 450 vials of pancuronium bromide to the Arizona State Prison on September 28th, 2010. This was sufficient to execute at least ten prisoners, and one has already died as a result. The sodium thiopental was sold for $1,615.13, a significant mark-up over the normal price in the US.

The State of Arizona sought permission from the state supreme court on December 28th to go forward with the next prisoners in line for execution. Reprieve also revealed that before Arizona, the State of Arkansas bought drugs from the UK, though the precise quantity is not yet known. Furthermore, on 6th January an additional 1,042 vials of sodium thiopental (sufficient to execute 85 prisoners) were released to California by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), after importation from Dream Pharma on November 5th.

Drugs bought by various states are thought to have been sourced from Dream Pharma, although the company has declined to confirm the fact, or produce the invoices. Various other states' recent purchases of execution drugs from the UK remain secret.

In the year 1999 state executions peaked at 98. Since then they have declined rapidly and have fallen to 46 in the year 2010.

So far in 2011 there have been 3 executions by lethal injection.

There are 35 states as well as the US Government and the US Military that have and exercise the death penalty.

There are 15 states that do not have the death penalty.

By far Texas has executed more inmates than any other state at 464 since 1976; second is Virginia at 108, and third is Oklahoma at 96.

12 women have been executed since 1976.

The supreme court ruled in 2002 that it is unconstitutional to execute defendants with mental retardation.

It is currently under court and public pressure to call for resolutions to exempt those with severe mental illnesses from the death penalty.

Lethal injection is the preferred method of execution used by all 35 states as well as the US Government and the US Military.

Each execution costs $250 million. The death penalty costs tax-payers more money than keeping the convicts locked up for life.

Published January 25, 2011, 8:45 pm

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