updated 1/22/2011 1:31:06 PM ET 2011-01-22T18:31:06

Germany's health minister is urging the nation's leading drug companies and distributors to ignore requests from the U.S. for supplies of a key drug used in lethal injections.

A spokesman for Philipp Roesler confirmed Saturday the minister had written a letter to the nation's leading pharmaceutical companies "urgently" appealing to them not to respond to requests from the U.S. for the drug, sodium thiopental.

Supplies of the drug are growing short after the sole U.S. manufacturer ceased production. It is still marketed in Germany as an anesthetic.

Although German law does not prohibit sale of the drug abroad, Roesler urged drug companies to understand that its potential use in the U.S. is not in keeping with German and European values.

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