The big news (well, big to some of us), is that Hospira is getting out of the killing business.
You remember that Hospira is the only US manufacturer of thiopental, the first ingredient in the three-drug execution series (I'm refusing to call it a "cocktail") and the only drug used in Ohio executions.
And you remember that Hospira stopped manufacturing it because it couldn't get the necessary supplies. And that it said it wasn't happy about its drugs being used to kill rather than heal. Well, now they're done. The Wall Street Journal reports that rather than resuming production of thiopental this quarter (which was Hospira's plan), it's going to stop making the drug altogether.
The Lake Forrest, Ill., company had planned to resume producing thiopental in the first quarter of 2011 at a company plant in Liscate, Italy. But in December, the Italian parliament issued an order binding the government to ensure that Hospira's Italian-made thiopental would not be used in lethal injections.
In the face of that opposition, Hospira ultimately decided to exit the thiopental market, said company spokeswoman Tareta Adams. "This will be a challenge for [medical] customers and we regret that," Ms. Adams said. "But we don't want to put our Italian facility at risk that the product will be misused" by U.S. prisons.
Hospira, she said, has had discussions with its drug distributors to see if the companies could block the drug from being sold to prisons, but Hospira ultimately decided there was no way to ensure the drug would not be "misused" by prisons.
We know Oklahoma switched drugs to get around the thiopental shortage while Arizona got some thiopental from England.
There's nothing particularly noble in Hospira's decision. It's a business call. But when killing is bad for business, maybe that's something to consider. (Governor Quinn? Are you reading this?)
Meanwhile, Ohio says it has enough thiopental to kill Frank Spisak next month. It's been coy about whether it'll be able to kill Johnny Baston in March. But our economy sucks. Kasich needs to figure out a way to balance the budget. Getting out of the killing business would be a good start. For Ohio, like for Hospira, it would be good business.