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  • The death chamber and the steel bars of the viewing room are seen at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas September 29, 2010.

    The death chamber and the steel bars of the viewing room are seen at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas September 29, 2010. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 May 2016

States using lethal injection as death penalty have moved to secrecy laws in order to not reveal the identity of their drugs providers.

A total of 33 states in the U.S. use the lethal injection as a method to conduct death penalty sentences and many of them have moved to secrecy laws in order to not reveal the identity of their drugs providers, The Intercept reported.

The case was revealed after last week's announcement by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, who said it will put a ban on the use of its drugs to carry out the death penalty by lethal injection, thus joining other 20 U.S. and European drug companies have already adopted such restrictions.

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But although the move by the world’s leading pharmaceutical company was seen as a milestone for the anti-death penalty advocates, it was found that Pfizer has never been known to supply states with execution drugs.

As a matter of fact, the pharmaceutical giant started in the business of these lethal drugs only a year ago, when it acquired Hospira Inc., which produced several drugs states have used or intend to use in executions.

This fact opens the awkward question: Where do the states get the drugs used in executions?

So far this year 14 executions by lethal injection have been conducted in five states; six in Texas, five in Georgia and one in Alabama, Florida and Missouri. All these states have bans in their secrecy policies and do not reveal the identity of their providers alleging harassment of anti-death penalty activists. 

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Last year the Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito accused anti-capital punishment activists of mounting “a guerilla war on the death penalty” as the court heard arguments on whether lethal injection violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

According to The Intercept many states stopped seeking drugs from legitimate sources a long time ago. Today, most active death penalty states rely on anonymous compounding pharmacies.

Many of the regulated companies who produce this drug have also stopped the production because difficulties in finding suppliers of the anesthetic sodium thiopental, a key ingredient in the lethal injection used in the U.S. 
 

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