The U.S. company that makes a drug most states use in lethal injection announced Friday that it would no longer produce the powerful anesthetic, a decision that throws the nation's capital punishment apparatus into disarray, the Washington Post reports. The decision by Hospira of Lake Forest., Il., was prompted by demands from Italy, which does not authorize capital punishment, that no sodium thiopental – which the company had planned to make at its plant outside Milan – be used for executions.
Hospira's move will force states and the federal government to look for alternatives to the drug, which could require lengthy approval processes and result in costly, long-running legal challenges. “This is clearly going to cause a problem for a lot of states,” said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes the death penalty. The development will “anger a lot of people,” said Michael Rushford of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a Sacramento group that supports the death penalty. “It would certainly bother someone whose daughter was killed by a convicted sex offender.” Thirty-five states permit executions.