UK opts out as supplier of death penalty drug

The UK government plans to limit the export of a drug in short supply that is used in U.S. death penalty executions. Authorities would require manufacturers of the anesthetic sodium thiopental to obtain an export license for sales to the U.S.

The decision is based on "moral opposition to the death penalty," reports the Wall Street Journal.

Arizona prison officials last October wouldn't reveal their source of the drug to be used in the execution of a death row inmate. It was widely acknowledged that the drug came from the UK, however, and a press report identified Archimedes as the source. The drugmaker denied it had exported the drug itself and denied knowingly providing it for lethal injection. 

Constrained supply of the drug in the U.S. is caused by manufacturing problems at its sole U.S. supplier, Hospira. The company says it expects to resume production in early 2011.

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