Connecticut-based company Absolute Standards, which was identified as the source of lethal injection drugs used in 13 federal executions in 2020 and 2021, has said it will no longer produce the drug used in executions—pentobarbital. In a letter to two Connecticut lawmakers, John Criscio, president of Absolute Standards, said the company ceased producing pentobarbital in December 2020, and has “no intention to resume any production or sale of pentobarbital.” Mr. Criscio’s letter explains that his company was registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency to produce and manufacture pentobarbital but does not address claims that the company supplied the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) with pentobarbital. State representative Josh Elliot, one of the lawmakers who is proposing new legislation to prohibit the sale of all drugs manufactured in Connecticut for use in executions, said in response that “just because the one company that had been identified as a manufacturer of these drugs is no longer manufacturing them doesn’t mean we want to leave the opportunity available for future manufacturing in the state.” 

Following reporting from “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver in April 2024 that linked Absolute Standards to the 13 executions carried out under former President Donald Trump’s administration, the company received questions and criticism from public groups and others opposed to the death penalty. Connecticut state Senator Saud Anwar and his colleague Rep. Elliot asked Mr. Criscio’s company to cease production and requested a meeting with company leaders, but Mr. Criscio declined a meeting, saying that “although some reports have given the impression that [Absolute Standards] acted illegally or even purposefully subverted the law, nothing could be further from the truth.” 

Despite assurance that Absolute Standards will no longer produce pentobarbital, Sen. Anwar intends on introducing legislation during the next general session that would place a ban on Connecticut-based companies from producing drugs used for lethal injection. “I’m more interested in making it illegal going forward. I think that laws last longer than legislators and issues and I feel that irrespective of their commitment, I am interested in having a law in the future…to make sure that we don’t have another similar situation that we learn about indirectly or directly five years, 10 years, 20 years from now,” Sen. Anwar told The Intercept. Rep. Elliot, whose district is home to Absolute Standards, is confident that the proposed legislation would draw support from his legislative colleagues. “I would be surprised if this issue would have any issue getting through the legislature,” he said. “I would imagine this would be something my colleagues would be more than happy to get through.”

For more than a decade, departments of corrections across the United States have had difficulty acquiring some of the drugs traditionally used in lethal injection executions. Many drug manufacturers have explicitly banned the use of their products in executions and others have stopped producing these drugs completely. More than a dozen states have also enacted secrecy statutes intended to protect drug suppliers and manufacturers from public scrutiny, as well as shield those involved in executions.  


Joshua Eaton and Lisa Backus, Could CT ban lethal injec­tion drugs? Some law­mak­ers want to, oth­ers unsure, CT Insider, June 28, 2024; Lauren Gill and Daniel Moritz-Rabson, Company Linked to Federal Execution Spree Says It Will No Longer Produce Key Drug, The Intercept, June 222024