British firm supplied US death drug: rights group

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A British human rights organisation claimed Thursday that a small company based in the office of a London driving instructor had supplied drugs to carry out executions in the United States.

Reprieve identified a firm called Dream Pharma as "the culprit that exported execution drugs to the US" for lethal injections.

Dream Pharma operates from within a modest office in Acton, west London, where a sign outside advertises the "Elgone Driving Academy", according to Reprieve.

To support its claims, the group produced an invoice from Dream Pharma dated September 28, 2010, for 150 vials of sodium thiopental, 180 vials of potassium chloride, and 450 vials of pancuronium bromide to the Arizona State Prison.

Reprieve said the amounts of the drug were sufficient to execute at least 10 prisoners, and one had already died in October as a result.

Contacted by AFP, Dream Pharma's managing director Matt Alavi refused to comment on the claims, saying: "I am not interested in discussing anything."

After pressure from human rights campaigners, the British government introduced new restrictions on the export of sodium thiopental in November.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Business said Thursday: "Export controls have been placed on it. You need a licence (from the British government) to export it."

She said the government was aware of Reprieve's allegations but as the evidence the rights group has presented referred to a transaction in September last year, it would have been within the rules at the time.

Under the new regulations, Dream Pharma would have to apply for a licence if it wants to export sodium thiopental, but the Department of Business spokeswoman would not comment on whether such an application had been made.

However, she said the British government would not grant the licence if the drug was to be used for lethal injections.

© 2011 AFP

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