The only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental, a chemical used in executions, said today it will stop making the product.
Hospira, based in Lake Forest, Illinois, said it never intended for its chemical to be used to kill people. It intended to start making sodium thiopental at a plant in Italy, but Italian authorities required the company to guarantee the chemical would not be used in executions, Hospira said on its website.
Capital punishment is outlawed in Italy and throughout Europe.
"Given the issues surrounding the product, including the government's requirements and challenges bringing the drug back to market, Hospira has decided to exit the market," the statement said.
"We regret that issues outside of our control forced Hospira's decision to exit the market, and that our many hospital customers who use the drug for its well-established medical benefits will not be able to obtain the product from Hospira."
Apart from executions, sodium thiopental is used as an anesthetic for brief surgical procedures and some kinds of hypnosis, according to rxlist.com.
Hospira suspended production of the drug in 2009, and many state prison systems have run out, according to The Wall Street Journal.
As a result, some states have turned to pentobarbital, a drug used by veterinarians to euthanize animals. An inmate in Oklahoma was executed in December with pentobarbital.