A pension fund has sold millions of Euros’ worth of shares in pharmaceutical company Lundbeck as a result of concerns about the use of their drugs in US executions.
US states are increasingly turning to Lundbeck’s pentobarbital (Nembutal) to carry out executions by lethal injection, after domestic shortages hit supplies of another drug which was, until recently, widely used in American executions.
Lundbeck has claimed it is doing ‘everything it can’ to prevent this from taking place. However, Danish pension fund Unipension yesterday sold 40m Danish Krone (5.4m Euro) worth of shares, citing Lundbeck’s failure to ‘engage in a genuine dialogue’ about their efforts to ensure their products are not used ‘in an undesirable way’.
Meanwhile, Denmark’s largest pension scheme, ATP, have said that ‘there are still things that need clarification’ by Lundbeck concerning this issue.
Reprieve, a legal action charity, has asked Lundbeck to investigate a number of possible courses of action to prevent their drugs being used in this way. However, the firm has so far refused to either adopt these or to explain in any detail why they are not feasible.
Several investment consultants have recently been in touch with Reprieve to ask about the ethical investment issues concerning the use of Lundbeck’s drugs in executions.
Unipension’s action could raise serious questions for other institutional investors in Lundbeck around the world – such as Norway's Government Pension Fund Global, which at the end of 2010 held a stake in Lundbeck worth around $25 million.
Reprieve Investigator Maya Foa said:
“That Lundbeck has refused to adopt any of the strategies available to them to prevent the use of their drugs in executions is baffling. As more evidence comes out about how easy it would be for the company to restrict the distribution of the product, serious questions about the company’s integrity need to be asked.
“Lundbeck’s failure to provide adequate answers has frustrated politicians, doctors, journalists, human rights groups and now investors.
“The moral consequences of being complicit in executions should have been enough to make Lundbeck take action; perhaps now that they are being hit in the pocket, they’ll realise they simply cannot afford to ignore this issue for one day longer.”
Notes to editors
1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0)20 7427 1082
2. A factsheet on the distribution Lundbeck’s Nembutal and the potential courses of action available to the company to stop its use in lethal injections is available here:
3. Unipension’s statement (in Danish) can be found here: http://www.unipension.dk/Unipension/Unipension/Nyheder.aspx?NewsItem=36d5ef2e-2eb0-4eea-bcb6-b5566c2aedf6
4. ATP’s response to Unipension’s action (Danish) can be found here: http://m.business.dk/touch/article.pml?guid=14032973
5. For Norway’s Government fund investment in Lundbeck, see ‘Danes won’t block execution drug’, Jan M. Olsen and Karl Ritter, Associated Press, On Wednesday March 30, 2011 http://finance.yahoo.com/news/AP-Exclusive-Danes-wont-block-apf-2309525945.html?x=0&.v=3
“Among Lundbeck's institutional investors are Scandinavian pension funds, including oil-rich Norway's Government Pension Fund Global, which at the end of 2010 held a 0.68 percent stake in Lundbeck worth 150 million Norwegian kroner (about $25 million).”
Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 27 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.
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