According to the BBC, the wholesale pharmaceutical company that sold execution drugs to the state of Arizona is a small, west London shop that also houses a driving school. Andrew Hoskin writes today that Dream Pharma Ltd. was the source of the three drugs (sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride) used in the execution of Jeffrey Landrigan last year. There has been a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental since the sole U.S. manufacturer of the drug, Hospira, stopped producing it because the company lacked necessary raw materials. California borrowed sodium thiopental from Arizona, but has not yet used the drugs–and has declined to give the exact source of the state’s own British supply of the drug.
The owner of the pharmacy, Mehdi Alavi, told the BBC he didn’t know the drugs would be used in executions. Clive Stafford Smith, an anti-death-penalty activist in the UK balked at the denial:
“The whole issue here is bizarre. How can we have a driving instructor with a pharmaceutical company in the back cupboard basically selling drugs to an American corrections institution to kill people? And it’s bizarre that the law allows it.”
The strange movements of execution drugs across international borders has attracted a lot of media attention in recent weeks. In Arizona, there’s currently a lawsuit underway to prevent the British drugs from being used in any further executions–at issue is the fact that there are no international manufacturers of the drug that have been approved by the FDA. The FDA, however, has declined to get involved, saying they deal with public health, not executions.