While California struggles to locate death penalty drugs, the state is also facing a shortage of chemotherapy drugs. The problem is that the chemo drugs are not profitable, so big drug companies have cut back on producing them. That could mean a price hike is on the horizon.

California was faced with a dilemma when it ran out of sodium pentathol, the drug commonly used in lethal injections. The state’s supply expired on October 1 last year, and the Department of Corrections spent two months searching for a remedy. They finally found one in the State of Arizona, which agreed to lend us 12 grams of the coveted drug. So grateful was the state that California Undersecretary of Corrections Scott Kernan wrote to the suppliers, “You guys in AZ are life savers. Buy you a beer next time I get that way.”

While Stephen Colbert waxed sentimental about the state’s two month search for the life-taking drug, what was missed in the story is that sodium pentathol is not the only drug lacking in California. There is also a shortage of chemotherapy drugs in California and throughout the Bay Area. The problem with these life-saving drugs, according to Kaiser Senior Oncologist Dr. Jonathan Polikoff, is that “There isn’t a big profit to be made, so the number of manufacturers is decreasing.” As of now there is no report of the state spending two months frantically searching for alternatives.

There is, however, another alternative, says Polikoff: get the drug manufacturers involved. Of course, this would mean that the drugs would have to be profitable, and that means upping their cost. When it comes to taking a life, it seems that all we need to do is borrow. When it comes to saving a life, it seems we simply could be forced to pay through the nose.
Read More at NBC Bay Area.