• Switzerland's news in English

Swiss firm: Don't use our drugs for US executions

Meritxell Mir · 30 Nov 2011, 11:45

Published: 30 Nov 2011 11:42 GMT+01:00
Updated: 30 Nov 2011 11:45 GMT+01:00

Basel-based pharmaceuticals company Naari has issued an impassioned plea to the US state of Nebraska to return drugs that could be used to kill prisoners on death row. 

"Naari did not supply these medicines directly to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and is deeply opposed to the use of the medications in executions," CEO Prithi Kochhar wrote in a letter addressed to Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican. He also sent the letter to Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, the Journal Star newspaper reported.

Kochhar said he and other executives at Naari were shocked when they learned at the beginning of November that sodium thiopental, one of the anaesthetics the company produces, would be used to kill inmates sentenced to the death penalty.

It didn’t take long for Naari to ask for its drugs to be returned, arguing they had been purchased illegally by the State of Nebraska.

However, the director of the Nebraska Department of Corrections, Robert Houston, and state Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Shannon Kingery told the Journal Star that the 485 grams of sodium thiopental had been obtained legally. The drug was purchased for $5,411 (4,990 francs) and received on October 25th.

Naari, however, claims it was cheated by a middleman based in India, where the Swiss company produces the drug. Indian magazine Outlook reported that the middleman, Chris Harris, received free samples of the drug, which he said he planned to sell as an anaesthetic in Zambia. Kochhar explained in his letter that this was also his understanding of was to happen with the sample.

Instead, Harris allegedly sold the drug to Nebraska, even though Naari’s CEO wrote in his letter that the middleman “was not authorised to sell the product to the Nebraska Department of Corrections or to anyone else in the USA."

Sodium thiopental is one of three drugs used by Nebraska for lethal injections, the Journal Star reported. But the state has found it difficult to obtain the drug since the sole US manufacturer, Hospira Inc., ceased production last year, citing opposition to the death penalty, the newspaper said.

Story continues below…

Kochhar said his company shared that view. 

"This is an awful situation for us," he said in an email to the Journal Star. "We never intended for the product to reach the US and definitely not be used for executions."

Meritxell Mir (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

2011-12-01 18:58:07 by John Russell
I think that the right to do is to return the drug to NAARI. The idea of putting a murdering savage to sleep like a beloved family pet is offensive. Were we to return to long drop hanging justice would be served and Swiss drug companies could sleep better a night
Today's headlines
Neuchâtel votes no to foreigners running for office
Photo: kuhnmi/Flickr

Neuchâtel voted on Sunday against an initiative that would have made it the first Swiss canton to allow foreigners stand in cantonal elections.

Swiss voters say no to higher pensions
Photo: AFP

Swiss voters on Sunday rejected a plan to increase pension payments by ten percent.

Italians enraged by Ticino foreign worker vote
File picture of Lega Nord leader Roberto Maroni. Photo: AFP

The leader of Italy's Lega Nord is plotting "adequate counter-measures".

EU warns Swiss over vote to curb cross-border workers
Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann (R) and EC President Jean-Claude Juncker met in Zurich on September 19th to talk about the implementation of Swiss immigration restrictions. Photo: AFP

The EU warned Switzerland on Monday over a vote by one of its cantons backing curbs on migrants, an issue being closely watched in London as a possible template for Brexit negotiations.

Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Twelve thousand women participated in a race against breast cancer in Le Mans, France, October 2014. Photo: AFP

The study suggests a link between aluminium salts and breast cancer.

Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Airolo in the Gotthard Pass. Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl

Voters in Ticino on Sunday strongly backed an initiative giving preference to local workers over foreigners.

France demands 45,000 Swiss accounts in tax hunt
Photo: AFP

France is tracking down UBS account holders.

Swiss back new law to allow phone and email tapping
A security camera keeps watch over proceedings in Davos: Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP

Swiss voters approved a new surveillance law on Sunday, in a victory for the government.

Swiss politician argues against hijab in ID photos
The official guidelines should what ID photos allow. Photo: FedPol

Should the Islamic headscarf be banned in photographs for official Swiss documents?

Swiss driverless bus trial suspended after crash
Photo: PostBus

The pioneering self-driving bus was involved in a minor collision with a van.

Sponsored Article
7 tips for learning Swiss French
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
Photo: AFP
Swiss ‘slave children’ to finally get compensation
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
Zurich named ‘greenest’ city on the planet
Photo: Swiss
Brawl over seats forces Swiss to abort flight
Photo: Daniel Stockhammer
Research shows typical Swiss chalets ‘not actually Swiss’
Photo: AFP
Switzerland to get nationwide disaster alert system
Photo: S3
Swiss space firm boss left badly injured in violent attack
Photo: ETH Zurich
ETH Zurich crowned best uni in continental Europe – again
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Report: Swiss citizenship rules leave some stateless
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Fatal crash: pilot told to fly below safe altitude
Photo: Peter Linke
Business & Money
Elderly Italian on benefits stashed €1m in Swiss bank
Photo: Stuart Richards
Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse
Photo: SAC
Hiking: 7 incredible Swiss Alpine Club cabins
Photo: David Abercrombie
Swiss politician arrested over illegal entry of migrants
Photo: Coiffure X
Chewbacca stolen in ‘terrorist attack’ on Swiss hair salon
Photo: AFP
Foreigners in Switzerland surpass 2 million mark
Photo: AFP
Expert predicts major quake for Switzerland by 2040
Photo: The Local
Geneva runs out of permits for non-EU workers
Photo:C Carlstead
Geneva advises teachers on religion in school
jobs available