J&J Enters Death Penalty Debate, Protests Use of Drug in Lethal Injection
At least eight companies make etomidate and no J&J drugs have yet been used in executions.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) company Janssen Pharmaceuticals is opposing Florida's plan to use of one of its drugs in an upcoming execution, signaling the pharmaceutical giant's first move in the capital punishment debate, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Florida amended its lethal injection protocol earlier this year to include Janssen's etomidate anesthetic agent after its supplies of the sedative midazolam ran dry. The execution of Mark Asay scheduled for Thursday will be the first time the state will use the J&J drug.

Janssen scientists created the drug etomidate in the 1960s, but never distributed it in North America and divested the rest of the business in 2016. J&J issued a statement saying it does not "support the use of [its] medicines for indications that have not been approved by regulatory authorities."

Florida, like many states, doesn't identify its suppliers. At least eight companies make etomidate and no J&J drugs have yet been used in executions, according to capital punishment opposition group Reprieve. In recent years, companies including Baxter Int'l Inc (BAX) , McKesson Corp (MCK) , Pfizer Inc (PFE) and Roche Holding AG (RHHBY) have publicly opposed the use of their drugs in executions.

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