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Pharmaceutical firm bans drug sales for lethal injections

WASHINGTON (CNS): “Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve. Consistent with these values, Pfizer strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment,” said a March 28 statement by the big pharmaceutical company, made public on May 13.

Karen Clifton, executive director of the Catholic Mobilising Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty, hailed the action.

“The medical community’s mission is to save lives; Pfizer’s actions ... are consistent with that mission,” Clifton said in a May 16 statement. “As Catholics, we hold human life to be sacred and we are encouraged when we see that value reflected in our wider culture.”

The statement from Pfizer said it would restrict sales of seven specific drugs “to a select group of wholesalers, distributors and direct purchasers under the condition that they will not resell these products to correctional institutions for use in lethal injections.

“Government purchasing entities must certify that products they purchase or otherwise acquire are used only for medically prescribed patient care and not for any penal purposes,” the statement continued. “Pfizer further requires that these government purchasers certify that the product is for ‘own use’ and will not resell or otherwise provide the restricted products to any other party.”

Pfizer and other drug manufacturers have been concerned that their drugs have been used for executions. Opponents of the death penalty have been concerned over the use of prescription medications for lethal injections.

Courts also have grown concerned over the constitutionality of drug cocktails being used to enforce the death penalty. 

The United States of America “is moving away from the death penalty because it is immoral,” Clifton said. “There is no good way to kill someone. It’s time to admit this is a bad policy and end the use of capital punishment.” 

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