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Execution drug shortage? Nope-drug companies just don't want their products used to execute people

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Message C. Hwang

With execution drug supplies and alternatives running out, states have come to rely largely on loopholes and secrecy to carry out executions by lethal injection.

State officials maintain that if they can just keep information about the drugs or their suppliers secret, they can ensure a steady supply of approved drugs.

Yet this just isn't true. In an op-ed published recently in the Los Angeles Times, Ty Alper, a clinical professor of law at UC Berkeley, reveals why shrouding the execution process in secrecy won't increase the availability of drugs for use in executions, writing: "the reason is simple:Drug companies don't want their products used to kill people."

In fact, drug companies - and their shareholders and customers - as Alper notes, have long objected to the use of their products in executions, which violates the companies' values and hurts their bottom lines.

From U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturer Hospira:

"Hospira provides these products because they improve or save lives and markets them solely for use as indicated on the product labeling," the company wrote. "As such, we do not support the use of any of our products in capital punishment procedures."
From the President of Danish Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Lundbeck:
"We urge you to discontinue the use of Nembutal [another anesthetic alternative] in the execution of prisoners in your state because it contradicts everything we are in business to do -- provide therapies that improve peoples lives."
Alper concludes, "Such statements show that corporate leaders are convinced that using their medical products to induce death does not comport with the mission or financial interests of their companies."

So 'shortages' aren't the real issue; drug companies just don't want their products used to execute people.

Read Ty Alper's full Op-Ed here: "Why the execution drug shortage won't go away"

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Christine Hwang is a recent graduate of American University.

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