Virginian Executed, Death-Drug Maker Objects

Pharma firm opposes 'distressing misuse' of epilepsy drug
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2011 3:00 AM CDT
Ruth Phillips, shown here in a family photo taken several years before her death, was murdered in 2001 by Jerry Terrell Jackson.    (AP Photo/Family Photo)
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(Newser) – Virginia has become the latest state to execute an inmate using a new cocktail of drugs for the lethal injection despite the manufacturer's objections. Jerry Jackson, 30, was executed for the 2001 rape and murder of an 88-year-old widow, Reuters reports. Pentobarbital, a drug used to treat epilepsy, was used as a sedative because of a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental. Its maker, Danish pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck, says it is horrified by the use of the drug in executions.

"We're in the business to improve people's lives, so the use of pentobarbital to end people's lives contradicts everything that we're in business to do," a company spokesman tells the BBC. Virginia obtained its supply of the drug before Lundbeck restricted distribution in an effort to keep its product out of death chambers. Jackson's lawyers, who failed to persuade the governor that jurors should be allowed to hear graphic details of the childhood abuse he suffered, said they were concerned by the use of the drug, AP reports.

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