Target: Lundbeck Chief Executive Ulf Wiinberg
Goal: Commend a drug company’s attempt to cull American executions by halting distribution of their epilepsy drug to prisons
Lundbeck is a Danish pharmaceutical company that distributes a form of epilepsy drug known as pentobarbital. The drug is designed to treat epileptic seizures and is sometimes used in the euthanasia of animals. But the drug has been misused increasingly in United States prisons as a way to execute prisoners.
The knowledge that Nembutal, Lundbeck’s brand of pentobarbital, was being used to kill prisoners horrified the Danish company’s Chief Executive, Ulf Wiinberg. “When we first learned of this misuse of our drug we went public and protested strongly to the relevant prison governors and state politicians,” Mr. Wiinberg said. Danish foreign minister Lene Espersen contacted the eleven U.S. states that use the drug for executions, including Ohio, Texas and Oklahoma, through the Danish Embassy to try to convince them not to use the drug in the institutionalized ending of human life, to no avail.
Capital punishment was banned in Denmark in 1930 and only re-instated briefly from 1945 to 1950 in order to execute Nazi collaborators. Capital punishment in the United States is marked by racial and class discrimination, in which a disproportionate number of lower class and/or African American males are executed each year.
Although the American response to the dwindling supply of the drug has been horrific, with prison officials injecting prisoners with untested drug cocktails and torturing them with drawn-out, anguished death, this does not detract from the larger statement against the barbaric practice of execution made by the Danish company. The Danish company offered an opportunity for Americans to re-examine our inhumanity, and the United States has responded with even more brutality.
Please sign this petition to support this company’s statement against state execution and to encourage an end to capital punishment in the United States.
Dear Lundbeck Chief Executive Ulf Wiinberg,
Thank you for your effort to put a spotlight on the inhumane practice of state execution in the United States by barring your drug, Nembutal, from use in executions in American prisons. You have ensured that your company’s products are used to benefit the health of patients and not misused to cause their demise.
Medical executions are an abomination of medical ethics. Even the American Medical Association agrees with this sentiment, and yet more than half of the United States continues to allow the institutional end of human life. I can only hope that your decision to prevent your company’s drugs to be used in state executions will set a precedent in the drug industry, and we will see less and less companies willing to put their names on institutionalized death. Please continue to promote these ethics and stand by your decision to keep your drugs out of executions.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons