Corporate Eye

It Ain’t Whatcha Do, It’s The Way That You Do It…

The Injection trim.. and that’s what gets results!

This may seem a little trite for a business sustainability and CSR blog.  After all, thinking about your business’ effects beyond the simple commercial supply of product or services is the very definition of sustainability.  However, a particularly pertinent example surfaced last week.

Archimedes Pharma is (according to their website) an international specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the oncology, pain, neurology, and critical care sectors.  One of their products is sodium thiopental, whose Wikipedia entry states:

Sodium thiopental, better known as Sodium Pentothal (a trademark of Abbott Laboratories), thiopental, thiopentone sodium, or Trapanal (also a trademark), is a rapid-onset short-acting barbiturate general anaesthetic. … Thiopental is a core medicine in the World Health Organization’s “Essential Drugs List”, which is a list of minimum medical needs for a basic healthcare system.

In short, it’s not just a painkiller .. it’s one of the fundamental painkillers which is used to baseline the availability of a basic healthcare. Good stuff, you would think, especially as Archimedes Pharma are the only licensed manufacturer of  sodium thiopental in the UK.

Market cornered you may think, but wait a sec.  Like most barbiturates, if given in large doses sodium thiopental can be fatal.  So fatal, in fact, that it’s used as the “Lethal Injection” method of execution in Arizona.

And here’s the issue.  On 27th October 2010 Jeffrey Landrigan, a prisoner in the state of Arizona, was executed by lethal injection.  Shortly after his execution the state’s attorney general revealed that the specific dose used was sourced from the UK.

And there’s only one manufacturer of sodium thiopental in the UK.

Who What Where When How …. WHY?

The purpose of this blog is not to point fingers or deal in ethical morality.  I have a very well worn soap box about morality, and its long and short is that ethics and morality have no place in the sustainability agenda.

However transparency is part of of the sustainability agenda, because transparency is all about trust and without trust there can be no voluntary disclosure of sustainability KPIs.

Archimedes Pharma acknowledges that it has supplied sodium thiopental to the US but denies that it has knowingly supplied it to the State of Arizona for the purposes of execution.  The State of Arizona, for its part, acknowledges that it has sourced four doses of the drug from the UK but declines to say from whom.

It is this kind of silly obfuscation which gives business, and the sustainability and CSR movement in particular, a bad name.  Far better to be transparent and say whether (or not) you supply a drug for execution rather than hide behind words and spin.

That is my opinion.  Another would be that the use a product is put to should have no bearing upon the manufacturer.  If a supply contract is entered into in good faith then the supplier should instinctively develop a blind spot for how their product is used once delivered.

What do you think .. should a manufacturer get involved in how their product is used, or should it be nothing to do with them? Which option is the sustainable option and which, if you’re interested in such terms, is ethical or responsible?

Picture Credit: The Injection by alexnormand under Creative Commons Attribution License. Trimmed by Chris Milton.

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A former CTO, Chris has a broad and varied background. He’s been involved with blue chips, consultancies & SMEs across a wide variety of sectors and has worked in Europe, the Middle East and Australia. In 2007 he decided to combine his knowledge of business and IT with his passion for all things sustainable and has been busy writing ever since. However, his greatest ambition remains to brew the perfect cup of coffee.