Pfizer protested the use of its drugs in lethal injection procedures last year, asking states to return the drugs for a refund. But not all of them have, and with an execution planned for Aug. 14 in Nebraska, a state senator is urging Pfizer to sue to halt use of its drugs.
"Time is of the essence," Nebraska state Sen. Ernie Chambers said in a letter Friday to Robert Jones, J.D., Pfizer vice president of U.S. government relations.
Chambers went on to say that the courts are an "effective avenue" that is "readily available by which all of Pfizer's stated interests can be vindicated." All Pfizer must do is start up legal proceedings to protest the misuse of its drugs.
A Pfizer representative said the company's "records do not show any sales of any restricted products to the Nebraska Department of Corrections. We are again asking the Nebraska DOC to return any Pfizer restricted product.”
Last October, Pfizer's Jones wrote to Nebraska Department of Corrections Director Scott Frakes that diazepam and fentanyl citrate have been added to a list of drugs not to be used in executions. He asked that Nebraska return Pfizer or Hospira drugs and said the drugmaker will provide "full credit" for returns.
Pfizer's position is that its drugs are to "enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve." The company "strongly objects" to the use of its drugs as lethal injections.
As Chambers noted in his correspondence, Alvogen recently blocked the use of its drugs in a Nevada execution through the courts. He said it's "puzzling" that Pfizer hasn't taken similar action and questioned whether "Pfizer's desire to protect its integrity, good name and public image" rises to the level of Alvogen's.
Chambers wrote that if the company doesn't challenge the use of its drugs for the procedure, the "genuineness and sincerity of your professed 'values' are called into question."
Three Pfizer drugs and one Sandoz drug are set to be used in an Aug. 14 execution in Nebraska, according to the Omaha World-Herald. Sandoz has also protested the use of its drug in the procedure and hasn't sued, the publication reports.