Danish drugs used in Texas execution of mentally impaired man

By staff writers
June 3, 2011

The state of Texas executed Gayland Bradford, a prisoner with severe mental impairment, on 1 June 2011. Drugs produced by the Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck were used in his killing.

Bradford, said by his lawyers to be ‘mentally deficient’, was the thirteenth person to be executed in the US using pentobarbital, which is known as Nembutal and is used for the control of epilepsy.

A three-drug ‘cocktail’, of which Nembutal makes up the first part, was used in Bradford's execution Texas is one of several states to switch to Nembutal following domestic shortages of sodium thiopental, the drug previously used as the first stage in the cocktail.

Bradford had been on death row since 1988 having been sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was 20 years of age. He suffered from alcohol and drug dependency and a number of psychological disorders which psychiatrists say should have been treated earlier. The legal charity Repreive says that Bradford’s conviction can be attributed in part to the ineffective assistance of his counsel (who failed to present a range of mitigating evidence at trial) and to the behaviour of the prosecution (who played a tape of the murder to the jury at trial).

He had an IQ of 68 which would have precluded the application of the death penalty in in many states.

Reprieve investigator Maya Foa said: “That Texas should execute people with mental disorders should not surprise us; that Danish pharmaceutical firm and psychiatry specialist, Lundbeck, should not do all it can to prevent its drugs being used to do Texas’ lethal bidding, should never cease to shock us.”


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