Drug giant Pfizer says that since it is in the business of "saving and improving" lives, it has taken steps to make sure its products are not used to execute people. "Pfizer strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment," the company said in a statement on its website, announcing that it has placed restrictions on the sale of seven products to ensure that they do not end up with correctional institutions, the BBC reports. For states already struggling with a shortage of execution drugs, Pfizer's move shuts off the only remaining FDA-approved source of the drugs on the open market, reports the New York Times, which describes Pfizer's move as a milestone.
Last year, Pfizer bought Hospira, a company that had tried and failed to prevent its products being used for lethal injections. Like other drug companies, Pfizer faced pressure both from human rights groups and shareholders like the New York state pension fund. "A company in the business of healing people is putting its reputation at risk when it supplies drugs for executions," NY state comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli tells the Times. "The company is also risking association with botched executions, which opens it to legal and financial damage." With no end in sight to the drug shortage, some states are considering a return to the electric chair and Utah has approved the use of firing squads. (Last year, Arizona tried to illegally import an execution drug.)