When the sole U.S. supplier of a drug used by all death penalty states announced it was halting production earlier this year, many states turned to sources overseas. In particular, Nebraska obtained a large quantity of the drug—sodium thiopental—from a company in Mumbai, India. Now that company has announced it will no longer supply the drug for use in lethal injections. In a statement released to the media, Kayem Pharmaceutical Pvt. Ltd. said, “In view of the sensitivity involved with sale of our thiopental sodium to various jails/prisons in USA and as alleged to be used for the purpose of lethal injection, we voluntary declare that we as Indian Pharma Dealer who cherish the Ethos of Hinduism (A believer even in non-livings as the creation of God) refrain ourselves in selling this drug where the purpose is purely for Lethal Injection and its misuse.” Earlier this year, the sole U.S. manufacturer of the same drug, Hospira Inc., similarly announced that it wanted no part in supplying drugs for executions. Nebraska death row inmate Carey Moore is challenging the legality of the state’s purchase of the drug. According to a motion filed with the Nebraska Supreme Court, there is no evidence that Kayem Pharmaceutical is registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or is authorized to deliver drugs to the U.S. There is also evidence that Nebraska received a generic form of the drug, contrary to the state’s execution protocol.

South Dakota may also have obtained drugs from Kayem, and the company has been contacted by 13 other states with similar interests. Drugs obtained by Georgia that apparently originated overseas were recently seized by the DEA. Kentucky and Tennessee have turned over some of their lethal injection drugs to the DEA as well.

(K. O’Hanlon, “Company says it no longer will sell drug for lethal injection,” Nebraska Journal Star; see also R. Bonner, “Indian Company Ends Sale of Lethal-Injection Drug to the U.S.,” The Atlantic, both April 7, 2011). See Lethal Injection.