Recently, Pfizer, a top pharmaceutical company has announced that it will no longer provide the drugs to aid the lethal injection as the company states, “Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve.”
Further speculation has come to show that they have an affiliated company, Hospira, which previously provided the drugs for the lethal injection and not Pfizer themselves. This is a legislation they have put in place to cement their values, leaving the US with no legal access to the required drugs.
Initially, this seemed like an inspirational move to putting an end to capital punishment in the states of America. Statistics do show a decline in this form of justice which further reiterates the success of the decisions as well as the power of pharmaceutical companies. However, it is the non FDA approved black market now providing the goods to states such as Texas who have passed a secrecy law last year to conceal the identity of the providers.
Some states now also allow other forms of capital punishment; execution, the electric chair, firing squads and nitrogen gas. The question is, does the prisoner in death row not have the right to choose their method of death?
If the lethal injection is an option deemed to be a quicker, less painful method then does the right to access the drugs overcome the right to allocate an alternative method of taking one’s life?
Should the black market continue to provide the drugs, its use for the lethal injection in regulated conditions has the opportunity to be breached leaving the population vulnerable, creating a larger risk without outweighing the benefits.
Addressing a difficult topic, on one hand, the pharmaceutical industry has created a strong message to cause the decline in capital punishment, along with the stronger regimens of Law and Order. On the other hand, the consequences of the drug distributions now out of its hands forms a bigger worry. Should capital punishment be put to an end, the drugs would no longer be required. However, by this time its circulation will have progressed and evolved which will need a further set of regulations to control and reduce. Therefore, endangering innocent lives and creating more space for violence, bringing us back in a vicious circle where capital punishment may still be seen as a necessity.
*7 drugs prohibited by Pfizer restriction:
Pancuronium bromide – C35H60Br2N2O4
Potassium chloride – KCl
Propofol – C12H18O
Rocuronium bromide- C32H53BrN2O4
Vercuronium bromide- C34H57BrN2O4