Europeans have had a bone to pick with companies supplying death penalty drugs to U.S. prisons, with government officials restricting exports and prompting shortages. In the latest chapter of the saga, a Dutch pension fund is selling out of Mylan ($MYL), after discovering that one of its products is stocked at a U.S. prison that carries out executions.
ABP, the world's third-largest employees' pension fund, sold all its shares in the company after finding out that a prison in Virginia had stocks of rocuronium bromide, a Mylan-made drug that can be used for executions. The fund was already having a back-and-forth with Mylan about the issue, but the latest news was the last straw for ABP, spokesman Harmen Geers told Reuters.
ABP held €9 million ($10 million) in Mylan shares before making the latest divestment, compared with €25 million last year, when it first approached the company with its concerns. "We thought we have only one step left to show our disapproval," Geers said, as quoted by Reuters.
The move comes amid growing pressure from European authorities to stop death penalties in the U.S. and keep drugs used in executions away from prisons. In 2011, EU drug officials pulled the reins on exporting some death penalty drugs, including sodium thiopental. Hospira ($HSP), the only U.S. supplier of the drug, had stopped making the product domestically earlier that year when manufacturing issues cropped up. The company had planned to move production to Italy but nixed the plan after officials in the country asked for guarantees that the drug wouldn't be used in executions.
European drugmakers are trying to impose their own restrictions, making moves to curb use of the drugs in U.S. prisons. Danish drugmaker Lundbeck said it would force distributors into contracts that prevent them from supplying drugs to prisons in states with capital punishment, but the company stopped short of pulling its Nembutal med off the U.S. market, citing epilepsy patients' need for the drug. Switzerland-based Novartis ($NVS) has also forbidden its distributors from bringing its copycat version of sodium thiopental to the U.S.
In 2013, German drugmaker Fresenius Kabi scolded a U.S. wholesaler after it accidentally sold its anesthetic propofol to the state of Missouri, which wanted to use the drug for executions. The company had already made its wholesalers sign contracts agreeing not to supply the drug to U.S. state prisons carrying out the death penalty.
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