Lundbeck Inc., a company based in Denmark and the sole U.S. manufacturer of pentobarbital, a new drug selected by Ohio and Oklahoma for their lethal injection protocols, has requested that states not use the drug to execute inmates. The company recently announced that their drug was never intended to be used in executions. A spokeswoman for the company said, “This goes against everything we’re in business to do. We like to develop and make available therapies that improve people’s lives. That’s the focus of our business.” Some medical experts have also raised concerns about the use of pentobarbital in executions, particularly as part of a 3-drug process. Harvard medical professor David Waisel said, “The use of pentobarbital as an agent to induce anesthesia has no clinical history and is non-standard. Because of these significant unknowns, and a lack of clinical history related to using pentobarbital to induce anesthesia, using pentobarbital as part of a 3-drug lethal injection protocol puts the inmate at an undue risk of suffering.” Oklahoma became the first state to use pentobarbital as a part of its three-drug injection protocol, replacing sodium thiopental as the first drug. Ohio, which was the first state to switch to a one-drug protocol, has recently announced its intention to use pentobarbital alone for its executions. A form of pentobarbital has also been used by veterinarians to euthanize pets.

(A. Welsh-Huggins, “APNewsBreak: Drug maker asks Ohio, Oklahoma not to use sedative for putting inmates to death,” The Canadian Press, January 27, 2011). See Lethal Injection.