Dear Valued Visitor,

We have noticed that you are using an ad blocker software.

Although advertisements on the web pages may degrade your experience, our business certainly depends on them and we can only keep providing you high-quality research based articles as long as we can display ads on our pages.

To view this article, you can disable your ad blocker and refresh this page or simply login.

We only allow registered users to use ad blockers. You can sign up for free by clicking here or you can login if you are already a member.

Hospira, Inc. (HSP), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR) (TEVA): Shortage of Execution Drugs on the Firing Line

Maybe Texas just needs to fire up Ol’ Sparky again. With the pace of executions in the state, it’s fast running out of pentobarbital, the drug of choice for lethal injections, and its supply has dried up after its manufacturer cut off supplies under pressure from death-penalty opponents.

Hospira, Inc. (NYSE:HSP)

Texas, like 12 other states that use lethal injection, used a three-drug cocktail to carry out executions. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, pentobarbital, or sodium thiopental is used as an anesthetic, pancuronium bromide is then injected as a paralytic, and potassium chloride is administered last to stop the heart and bring on death.

However, Texas was forced to move to a one-drug lethal injection after sodium thiopental supplier Hospira, Inc. (NYSE:HSP) cut off supply of the drug following the Italian government’s objection to its use in executions after the company wanted to move manufacturing facilities there. Like seven other states, the Lone Star State began administering massive, lethal doses of pentobarbital instead to effect the execution.

Now that drug also can’t be found, after its Danish manufacturer, Lundbeck, declared it was unsafe for use in lethal injections and halted shipments of it to U.S. prisons.

There are alternatives available, but courts have not yet approved their use. Missouri, for example, wants to use propofol, which is what Michael Jackson’s doctor was convicted of injecting him with when the pop singer overdosed.

Hospira, Inc. (NYSE:HSP) was one of three manufacturers of propofol until a contamination problem sent Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:TEVA) and Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. (ADR) (NYSE:FMS) subsidiary APP Pharmaceuticals scurrying and suspended production. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:TEVA) was sued and had to pay some $800 million in damages and ceased production as a result, while both Hospira, Inc. (NYSE:HSP) and APP resumed their manufacture. Yet because anesthesiologists view it as their go-to drug, it remains in short supply, and if states start administering it, they may face additional shortages as well.

The approved methods of execution in addition to lethal injection include electrocution and the gas chamber, as well as hanging and the firing squad. Considering the shortages of ammunition sparked by fears of gun control and massive government purchases, that last one might not be a viable alternative at the moment.

Amongst the 32 states that use executions, by far the most popular means is lethal injection because it’s seen as the most humane. Which is ironic, because those individuals and places that oppose the practice altogether may end up forcing the use of more “inhumane” methods by creating a scarcity of resources.

The article Shortage of Execution Drugs on the Firing Line originally appeared on is written by Rich Duprey.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

DOWNLOAD FREE REPORT: Warren Buffett's Best Stock Picks

Let Warren Buffett, George Soros, Steve Cohen, and Daniel Loeb WORK FOR YOU.

If you want to beat the low cost index funds by 19 percentage points per year, look no further than our monthly newsletter.In this free report you can find an in-depth analysis of the performance of Warren Buffett's entire historical stock picks. We uncovered Warren Buffett's Best Stock Picks and a way to for Buffett to improve his returns by more than 4 percentage points per year.

Bonus Biotech Stock Pick: You can also find a detailed bonus biotech stock pick that we expect to return more than 50% within 12 months.
Subscribe me to Insider Monkey's Free Daily Newsletter
This is a FREE report from Insider Monkey. Credit Card is NOT required.