Teva returns to market with propofol

The drug propofol has been in short supply for several years after Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) closed a plant that made it and Hospira ($HSP) began having manufacturing problems of its own.

Now Teva says it will sell the drug again but with a big caveat. In accordance with a request from the unnamed company that manufactures it for Teva, the company will not make it available for executions, Bloomberg reports. Other manufacturers, like Denmark's Lundbeck and Germany's Fresenius Kabi, have made pledges not to sell the drug for lethal injections after Missouri last year said it would switch to the sedative for executions because of shortages of other drugs.

Teva has had a bad history with propofol, a sedative that reached national attention when it was tied to the overdose death of singer Michael Jackson. Teva in 2010 closed the plant in Irvine, CA, that manufactured it after the FDA found serious GMP issues. It this year put that plant up for sale. The company was also sued for having offered propofol in oversized vials that were believed to encourage refills and which were then tied to hepatitis C infections. The company last year agreed to pay $285 million to settle much of that litigation.

Hospira, which also has said it does not support use of any of its drugs for lethal injections, began producing propofol again in November after extensive remediation at the plant where it is produced. But just last month, it recalled three lots of the injectable emulsion after reports that some vials had visible particles embedded in the glass.

Teva says it will begin selling propofol to hospitals and doctors but only to those that will agree to make an effort not to provide it to correctional facilities, a spokeswoman told Bloomberg.

- read the Bloomberg story