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Lundbeck move to stop supplying execution drugs welcome

July 1, 2011 11:30 AM

Reacting to the announcement by Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck that it taking steps to stop its drug Nembutal, generically known as pentobarbital, being used in executions in US prisons, Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford who is vice-chair of the European Parliament's delegation to the US, said:

"I very much welcome Lundbeck's announcement that it is acting to stop its drug from being used to kill people. But morally they surely had no choice, since having their medicines - designed for therapeutic use - hijacked for capital punishment is a grotesque distortion of their purpose."

"Voluntary commitment from the European pharmaceutical industry that it will not allow its drugs to be used in executions, even those manufactured outside the EU, is therefore certainly valuable. No European company should sully its reputation by being involved in such cruel and inhuman punishment."

"But voluntary effort needs to be bolstered by statutory export controls on lethal injection drugs made in the EU. This is what I and colleagues in the European Parliament are currently campaigning for."

Notes to Editors

1. Together with MEP colleagues Ana Gomes and Simon Busuttil, Sarah Ludford has launched a Written Declaration in the European Parliament demanding that EU law be changed so that a number of lethal injection drugs become subject to end-use export controls and cannot be exported from the EU for use in the death penalty.

2. A written declaration in the European Parliament is similar to an 'early day motion' at Westminster, a means for MEPs to make a political statement on a particular issue and demand action. To become a resolution debated in the Parliament, at least half of the MEPs must sign within 3 months, otherwise the Written Declaration lapses.

3. Sarah Ludford is also organising, together with NGOs Amnesty International and Reprieve, a seminar and press conference next week in the European Parliament about the issue of how we can stop EU drugs being used in executions. It will be held on Tuesday 5 July, 2-3pm, in room LOW S3.5 in the European Parliament in Strasbourg; all are welcome to attend.