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Mylan bows to pension fund pressure on use of drug in executions

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A pharmaceutical company is to prevent one of its drugs from being used in lethal injections after pressure from the Dutch government and pension managers ABP and PGGM.

Mylan said it would contractually prevent its distributors from selling the drug rocuronium bromide for use in lethal injections.

In a statement, the company did not directly credit any one party with its decision, which followed claims its product was being acquired by a US department of corrections. 

The company said it never directly distributed the muscle relaxant to prisons and did not condone third-party distributors selling it for use on anything “outside of the approved labelling”.

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Mylan said it contacted the US correctional facility for the state of Virginia, asking for assurances the drug was not being used for anything other than its dedicated purpose, but received no reply.

It then went on to demand the facility in Virginia return its product, ahead of an execution scheduled for 1 October, the state’s first in three years.

“It is important to note rocuronium bromide is not approved for, labelled for or marketed for use in lethal injections,” the company said.

“Mylan takes this matter seriously and will continue to work with distributors and other interested parties to ensure its products are used appropriately.”

Peter Borgdorff, director of Dutch healthcare scheme PFZW, applauded Mylan for listening to the concerns of its shareholders.

“We are convinced this step will have a positive contribution to the reputation of a company that has an important contribution to medical care in the Netherlands and the rest of the world,” he said. 

Eloy Lindeijer, chief investment manager at PFZW’s asset manager PGGM, said its approach to responsible investment meant it occasionally engaged in “intensive and at times elaborate” discussions, and cited Mylan’s decision as a successful example of its ESG policy.

Fellow pension manager ABP earlier this year announced that it sold its stake in the company after unsuccessful talks with Mylan.

Its decision followed a report by UK human rights charity Reprieve that purported to show the Virginia correctional system stocking the drug, a report that led to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs engaging with the pharmaceutical.

ABP has previously engaged with pharmaceutical company Hospira over one of the company’s products being used in lethal injections, efforts that were also prompted by Reprieve.

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