LETHAL INJECTION: Many States Changing Lethal Injection Process

On October 4, Ohio announced it will be obtaining its execution drug, pentobarbital, from a compounding pharmacy if it is not available from the manufacturer. Texas made a similar announcement a few days earler. In the past, some compounding pharmacies have been implicated in providing contaminated drugs with fatal side effects. These local companies are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Florida announced it will be using a new drug, midazolam, in its October 15 execution. The drug will be part of a 3-drug process and has never been used before in executions. The 3-drug process can be extremely painful if the first drug is not completely effective. Missouri intends to be the first state in the country to use the drug propofol in its October 23 execution, despite the fact that the drug company that delivered the drug has asked for its return. If Missouri goes ahead with the execution, European countries may impose restrictions on the exportation of this drug, thereby affecting other uses for vital surgeries in the U.S. Finally, Tennessee will now use only a single drug, pentobarbital, in its executions, though it did not say where it hoped to obtain the drug.

Law suits challenging these untried methods and new sources of drugs are being filed in most upcoming executions. Texas has an execution scheduled for October 9.

(USA Today, Oct. 4, 2013 (AP-Ohio); Editorial: “Missouri gets death drug by mistake: ‘Capital punishment for surgical patients’,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 2, 2013; M. Graczyk, “Texas reveals execution drug’s origin,” Associated Press, October 2, 2013; S. Bousquet, “Florida to Use New, Untried Drug in Lethal Injections,” Tampa Bay Times, October 3, 2013; WBIR, Sept. 27, 2013 (Tenn.)). See Lethal Injection.