US states are now going to have to go underground to get the drugs for lethal injections

The death chamber is seen through the steel bars from the viewing room at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas in this September 29, 2010 handout. REUTERS/Jenevieve Robbins/Texas Dept of Criminal Justice/Handout via Reuters

Pfizer just became the last pharmaceutical company to block the use of its drugs in lethal injections.

This means that there are no more FDA-approved manufacturers that will supply the drugs used in lethal injections for the death penalty, The New York Times reports.

“Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injection,” Maya Foa, director of the death-penalty team at the human-rights group Reprieve, told The Times.

In the last few years, drug companies have started blocking their drugs from being used as part of the death penalty. But these drugs also have other medical uses, which can make it tricky to keep them from making it into state prisons that still carry out the death penalty and to keep them from being used for that purpose.

Pfizer says that it opposes using the drugs for the death penalty.

“Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve, … [and] strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment,” the company said in a statement to The Times.

Still, many drug companies have succeeded in limiting the use of their drugs, which is why many states have started turning to compounding pharmacies, which can make the drug combinations themselves.

Compounding pharmacies are typically used so patients can get alternative versions of existing medications, and they have less oversight than branded and generic pharmaceutical companies that need to get their products approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The move could make it tougher for states to acquire the drugs for the purpose of lethal injections.

To read the full report, head over to The New York Times >>

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