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EU restricts lethal injection drugs

BRUSSELS, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The European Commission has added two drugs essential to lethal injection in the United States to a restricted list of products used for torture or execution.

Trade in the items on the list by companies in the 27 countries in the European Union is tightly controlled. The EC added eight barbiturates, including pentobarbital and sodium thiopental, to the list, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

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None of the EU member states retain the death penalty. Its policy effectively bans trade that contributes to "capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Hospira, an Illinois company, stopped manufacturing sodium thiopental in 2009, saying that being the source of an execution drug hurt its reputation. States that retain the death penalty are dealing with a shortage of drugs.

Britain adopted similar tough controls in 2010.

EC Vice President Catherine Ashton welcomed the new policy.

"The decision today contributes to the wider EU efforts to abolish the death penalty worldwide," she said.

Almost all recent executions in the United States have been by lethal injection, requiring either sodium thiopental or pentobarbital. In 2010, Virginia carried out one electrocution and Utah put a man to death by firing squad.

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