S&D Group calls for EU ban on export of lethal drugs


After UK wholesaler sells sodium thiopental to US state of Arizona

The Group of the Progressive Alliance of the Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D) has called for an immediate ban on the export of lethal injection drugs across Europe after UK human rights group Reprieve revealed that Dream Pharma, a UK pharmaceutical wholesaler, supplied the US state of Arizona with sodium thiopental.

Claude Moraes, S&D spokesperson on civil liberties, called on the European Commission to reaffirm the EU's rejection of any support of the death penalty and to promote a EU-wide ban on this export.

‘We should call for the commissioners for fundamental rights and for trade to move very quickly, not just because of not having the death penalty in the EU but exporting it, but also because this is a symbolic value of the European union,’ he said.

Earlier this week Hospira, the sole US producer of Pentothal (sodium thiopental), pulled out of the market following pressure from the Italian authorities to prevent its use in capital punishment.

The UK Government has already banned the export of sodium thiopental for use in lethal injections.

According to Reprieve’s director Clive Stafford Smith, Dream Pharma, based in Acton, west London, has exported sufficient amounts of the drug to execute 90 people in at least four US states.

Dream Pharma, run by Mehdi ‘Matt’ Alavi, sold drugs to Arizona that were used in the execution of Jeffrey Landrigan on 26 October 2010, said Reprieve.

Dream Pharma sold 150 vials of sodium thiopental, 180 vials of potassium chloride, and 450 vials of pancuronium bromide to the Arizona State Prison on 28 September 2010. This was sufficient to execute at least ten prisoners. The sodium thiopental was sold for £1,180.50.

Reprieve also revealed that on 6 January the US Food & Drug Administration released to California an additional 1,042 vials of sodium thiopental (sufficient to execute 85 prisoners) after importation from Dream Pharma on 5 November.

The State of Georgia also planned to execute Emmanuel Hammond this week with drugs supplied by Dream Pharma.