Hospira plots to block anesthetic from executions

Sodium thiopental maker Hospira says it is working to prevent use of the anesthetic in capital punishment. As the sole manufacturer of the drug in the U.S., the company is considering such tactics as selling it only through wholesalers and working with trading partners to restrict distribution to departments of corrections.

"We historically did not prohibit sales to departments of corrections or penitentiary hospitals because the product did have use in medical treatments or surgical procedures provided by these institutions," says Hospira spokesman Dan Rosenberg in an email. "The company for years has periodically advised corrections departments that it markets the drug "solely for medical use as indicated on the product labeling."

Rosenberg adds that this is Hospira's position globally. 

Earlier this week, the AP reported details of prison officials' attempts last fall to buy the scarce drug. Compounding pharmacy KRS Biotechnology and distributor Spectrum Chemicals & Laboratory Products both declined the sales; however, Arizona officials hit pay dirt in U.K. wholesaler Dream Pharma.  Since then, British authorities have barred the export of sodium thiopental for executions.

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