Cardinal Health websiteI recently wrote to Cardinal Health, a drug company that has supplied the Georgia Department of Corrections with Nembutal to be used in executions. I wanted to share my letter with you. It begins:

Dear Mr. Barrett:
I write on behalf of Andrew Grant De Young, a Georgia death row prisoner, concerning your company’s recent sale of Nembutal to the Georgia Department of Corrections. This sale was not for the purpose of “improving people’s lives” as you say on your website, but to kill people, i.e., persons sentenced to death.

Nembutal, known as pentobarbital, is FDA approved for the treatment of seizures and pre-operative sedation. It is not approved as part of a lethal injection procedure. In fact, its manufacturer, Lundbeck, specifically opposes its use in lethal injections. Indeed, Lundbeck states that the “mis-use” of Nembutal for lethal injections is not only improper, but that it cannot assure either its safety or efficacy under such circumstances.

Two of Cardinal Health’s core values are its commitment to acting in the best interests of the patient and improving patient safety. Cardinal Health tries to live these core values by being a signatory to the AdvaMed Code of Ethics and implementing its own Standards of Business Conduct. The sale of Nembutal for use in executions appears to violate both the letter and spirit of the Code of Ethics and your Standards of Business Conduct. We urge you to undertake immediate corrective action.

You can read the full letter here.

So far, it has prompted this response from Cardinal Health:

Our role as a distributor in the health care supply chain is to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of products from manufacturers to customers holding the appropriate federal and state licenses. We do not play a part in the determination made by prescribing physicians, legislators, or regulators regarding the use of the products we distribute.

I think Cardinal Health can do better than this, don’t you?

Executions are held hidden from the public eye and the companies that supply drugs used to kill our fellow human beings don’t choose to publicize that fact on the home pages of their websites.

Cardinal’s website invites us to “Join the conversation”. I think we should accept that invitation and ask Cardinal Health why it chooses to be a part of the machinery of death.

You can contact Cardinal Health; and you’ll find them on Twitter @CardinalHealth.