ASHP Adopts Policy Opposing Pharmacist Participation in Capital Punishment


ASHP approved a policy opposing pharmacists' participation in capital punishment.


On Sunday, June 7, 2015, ASHP approved a policy opposing pharmacists’ participation in capital punishment. The policy was approved by the organization’s chief policy-making body, the House of Delegates, during ASHP’s Summer Meetings this week in Denver. It affirms that pharmacists’, as healthcare providers who are dedicated to achieving optimal health outcomes and preserving life, should not participate in capital punishment.

“This policy makes it clear that ASHP opposes pharmacists’ participation in capital punishment,” said ASHP Chief Executive Officer Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP. “We are proud that our members as patient care providers who are dedicated to achieving optimal health outcomes have taken this strong, ethical stance.”

The role of pharmacists in execution by lethal injection changed substantially after pharmaceutical manufacturer Hospira relocated its thiopental sodium manufacturing to Italy in 2011. The European Union bans the export of thiopental sodium to countries where it may be used in executions, including the U.S. The ban resulted in severe shortages of the drug, which was the cornerstone of the three-drug cocktail used in lethal injections. In response to the shortages of the drug, many states substituted compounded anesthetic preparations or instituted other drug protocols, which involved pharmacists in the compounding and preparation of the drug.

ASHP’s new policy acknowledges individuals’ personal, moral opinions on the issue and asserts that pharmacists have a right to decline to participate without retribution. The new statement supersedes a policy that was first adopted in 1984 and reaffirmed several times by the House of Delegates.

The new policy states:

To acknowledge that an individual's opinion about capital punishment is a personal moral decision; further, to oppose pharmacist participation in capital punishment; further, to reaffirm that pharmacists have a right to decline to participate in capital punishment without retribution.

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