- Rocuronium bromide is part of the three-part drug cocktail used in the lethal injections as part of capital punishment in the U.S. Mylan manufactures the substance, a paralytic that has anesthetic properties.
- There have been shortages of rocuronium bromide, leading states to use midazolam as a replacement drug. As a result, several prisoners who were given midazolam took longer to die and died apparently painful deaths.
- The EU does not practice, nor does it endorse, capital punishment. An activist group in London pressured one of Mylan's major investors to pull away from the company since Mylan refused to ensure that rocuronium bromide would no longer be used to kill prisoners.
While most people don't know what rocuronium bromide is, many heard about the fact that it took one prisoner in Ohio 26 minutes to die after receiving a lethal injection. The backstory: There have been shortages of rocuronium bromide, and states have chosen to use midazolam in its place. Apparently, midozalam is not as effective.
The EU does not practice, nor endorse, capital punishment. The German firm DJE Kapital has divested $70 million from Mylan to protest the fact that Mylan provides rocuronium bromide to states for the purpose of lethal injection. Mylan wasn't able to assure DJE that its drug would not be used to kill prisoners, leading the asset management firm's CEO to say, "If clients find out we have shares in companies that supply that drug, we have problems with our clients."
It should be noted that Mylan has a large portfolio of generics, and rocuronium bromide is only one of its products. Mylan is the very same company that developed heat-stablized ritonavir for distribution in developing countries for HIV treatment.
At the heart of this story is the issue of capital punishment in America and how it's handled on a state-by-state basis. At this moment, Alabama has nine executions scheduled and has not chosen to make comments about its supply of rocuronium bromideor, or lack thereof.