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Indian firms not to sell sodium thiopental to US jails

Last updated on: April 6, 2011 16:37 IST

Indian firms not to sell sodium thiopental to US jails

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Navneet Verma, managing director and CEO, Kayem Pharmaceuticals, has assured Reprieve, a United Kingdom-based provider of legal assistance to prisoners who cannot fend for themselves, that no Indian manufacturer will sell thiopental sodium -- an ingredient used in lethal injections by US Correctional Services -- to jails in the United States that use it for lethal purposes.

The other Indian manufacturers include big names like Maharashtra (Andheri)-headquartered Neon Laboratories; Ahmedabad-based Swiss Pharma; and Noida-based Jagson Pharmaceuticals.

However, these three companies do not sell the molecule directly to US jails.

Verma assured Reprieve investigator Sophie Walker at his office in the north Mumbai suburb of Borivali that not only Kayem but all other manufacturers of thiopental sodium have decided not to sell it to US jails.

However, he warned Walker that any use of intimidating language or action by Reprieve against his company would not be tolerated.

Kayem Pharma's sale of thiopental sodium to the states of South Dakota and Nebraska were in the eye of a storm after Reprieve took up cudgels with the Indian manufacturer when a lawyer in Nebraska moved a local court for use of the molecule from India-based Kayem.

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Photographs: Reuters
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In his company's defence, Verma says, "We are not in contravention of any law, Indian or US."

While thiopental sodium is a controlled substance under Schedule 3 of DEA (Drug Enforcement Authority) in the US, American laws require that the importers -- in this case the state governments of South Dakota and Nebraska -- must send a declaration to the exporter in the form DEA 236.

"We are in possession of all legal documents from the two state governments," Verma says. On his part no law or convention says that the exporter should know about the end-use of the molecule.

Kayem had till date exported 500 gm of thiopental sodium to the governments of Nebraska and South Dakota.

The execution of Carey Dean Moore -- represented by a local lawyer associated with Reprieve -- is pending in the state of Nebraska. He was convicted of first-degree murder of two drivers after a failed robbery attempt in Omaha.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Kayem Pharmaceutical Pvt. Ltd. is a contract manufacturer and marketers of Generic Prescription Drugs.

In response to this assurance Verma immediately issued an official statement on the company's website (www.kayempharma.com). The statement reads:

"In view of the sensitivity involved with sale of our thiopental sodium to various jails/prisons in the USA and as alleged to be used for the purpose of lethal injection, we voluntary declare that we as Indian pharma dealers who cherish the ethos of Hinduism (a believer even in the non-living as the creation of God) refrain ourselves in selling this drug where the purpose is purely for lethal injection and its misuse.

While declaring aforesaid we commit ourselves to the international solidarity but do not comment on the judicial process and its consequent award."

"While reiterating aforesaid we expect a reciprocal treatment from the international community in our effort to make India free of terrorism and bloodshed of innocent Mumbaikars, in particular, and Indian and mankind, in general.


Photographs: Reuters
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