The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Danish company asks Florida to stop using its drug to kill inmates

27

July

nembutal.jpgThe head of Lundbeck, Inc., the Danish company that makes ones of the drugs Florida plans to use to execute its first death row inmate in 18 months, has twice written Gov. Rick Scott urging him not to use their product for capital punishment.

Staffan Schüberg, president of Lundbeck, wrote to Scott in May and again in June after he said his letters to the Florida Department of Corrections went unanswered. It's unclear if Scott's office has responded, either.

The drug — pentobarbital sodium, branded as Nembutal — is at the center of the Florida Supreme Court's decision this week to delay the execution of Manuel Valle, who shot and killed a South Florida police officer 33 years ago.

"The use of pentobarbital outside the approved labeling has not been established," Schüberg wrote. "As such, Lundbeck cannot assure the associated safety and efficacy profiles in such instances. For this reason, we are concerned about its use in prison executions."

Here are the letters from Schüberg to Scott: 

May 16, 2011

The Honorable Rick Scott, State of Florida, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL, 32399-0001

Dear Governor Scott,

Lunbeck understands that the state of Florida has decided to use our product Nembutal® (pentobarbital sodium injection, USP) for the purpose of capital punishment. We are adamantly opposed to the use of Nembutal to execute prisoners because it contradicts everything we are in business to do — provide therapies that improve people's lives.

Given our strong opposition to this misuse of our product, we previously sent a letter to the Florida Department of Corrections urging it to refrain from using Nembutal for the purpose of capital punishment. The Florida Department of Corrections has not responded to our letter and we therefore request that you take immediate action to stop the use of Nembutal as a means to end lives.

After exploring several potential means of restricting the distribution of Nembutal, we've learned that we simply cannot control how licensed healthcare professionals use this or any pharmaceutical product in the United States. The only potentially effective action we can take is to appeal to you and urge that Florida refrain from using our product for a purpose that severely contradicts Lundbeck's mission to provide therapies that help improve people's lives.

Thank you for your serious consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Staffan Schüberg, President, Lundbeck, Inc.

____________

June 8, 2011

The Honorable Rick Scott, State of Florida, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL, 32399-0001

Dear Mr. Scott,

I am writing to follow up on my recent letter about your state's use of Nembutal® (pentobarbital sodium injection, USP) for the purpose of lethal injection in your state.

The use of pentobarbital outside the approved labeling has not been established. As such, Lundbeck cannot assure the associated safety and efficacy profiles in such instances. For this reason, we are concerned about its use in prison executions.

We ask that you stop using pentobarbital in the execution of prisoners in your state because it contradicts everything we are in business to do — provide therapies that improve people's lives.

Thank you for your serious consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Staffan Schüberg, President, Lundbeck, Inc.

 

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 12:19pm]

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