Pfizer Prohibits Use of its Drugs for Executions

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Pfizer’s announcement on Friday that it will enforce the distribution restriction of its drugs that are used in lethal cocktails makes it the last FDA-approved pharmaceutical company to do so. Which means states that still carry out executions are forced to go underground to find drugs, or go back to very outdated options.

Pfizer stated:

Pfizer makes its products solely to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve. We strongly object to the use of any of our products in the lethal injection process for capital punishment.

We are committed to ensuring that our products remain available and accessible to the medical professionals and patients who rely upon them every day. We have implemented a comprehensive strategy and enhanced restricted distribution protocols for a select group of products to help combat their unauthorized use for capital punishment.

Pfizer is the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world, and its stance on the issue is important. However, it’s hard to know exactly how big of an impact it will have on the actual business of executions because of the secrecy surrounding the process. There are 32 states still using death penalty, and of those, a majority are not open about their drug sources because of fear of  violent actions from execution opponents.

As Law Street has reported earlier, the lethal injection crisis has been going on for a few years. This is due to drug manufacturers’ refusal to provide drugs for this purpose, and export restrictions from European nations, where capital punishment is no longer in use. This has led to the use of drugs that could cause unnecessary suffering, or drugs from compounding pharmacies, resulting in some drawn-out and seemingly painful deaths. To not have to break the law to carry out executions, some states have actually turned to old-fashioned options such as the firing squad, electric chairs, or even gas chamber as possible solutions. Others have just delayed executions again and again, waiting to find the right drugs.

Emma Von Zeipel
Emma Von Zeipel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. She is originally from one of the islands of Stockholm, Sweden. After working for Democratic Voice of Burma in Thailand, she ended up in New York City. She has a BA in journalism from Stockholm University and is passionate about human rights, good books, horses, and European chocolate. Contact Emma at



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