CALIFORNIA (USA): EXECUTION DRUG CAME FROM UK, OFFICIALS SAY
December 6, 2010: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is under court order to provide details to the American Civil Liberties Union by today explaining how it got the drug sodium thiopental.
Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton told The Bee today that officials obtained two different doses of the drug for possible use in executions.
The first batch of 12 grams came from Arizona on Sept. 30, said Thornton, noting California was not charged for it. The second batch of 521 grams was manufactured by Archimedes Pharma, a British company, and corrections officials paid $36,415 to obtain it, she said. The shipment was approved by U.S. Customs and the Drug Enforcement Administration, Thornton said. It is on the East Coast awaiting release by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"We have followed all the proper procedures," Thornton said. The origin of the drugs is the subject of a lawsuit by the ACLU's Northern California branch, which contends that it is illegal for corrections to use a foreign-produced drug in executions without FDA approval. The state ordered the drug before the U.K. last month said it planned to limits exports of the drug, thiopental sodium, because of the U.K.'s "moral opposition to the death penalty."
Britain last week tightened rules governing the export of the drug to the United States, a move that came after California made its purchase. California uses 6 grams of thiopental per execution. The drug was made by U.K.-based Archimedes Pharma, but California bought it through a U.K. distributor the state didn't identify.
"It was acquired in accordance with all state and federal law," said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman at the California corrections department. "Archimedes does not export [thiopental] to the U.S.," the company said in a statement. "Archimedes does not have information on specific end purchasers or users of its products." "There are still a lot of unanswered questions," said Natasha Minsker, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of North California. "Do these [foreign] drugs work the same as the American version? Do they have the same efficacy?" (Sources: The Sacramento Bee, 06/12/2010)