Tuesday, October 29, 2013

But the cupboard was bare

Just what is a state to do when it is so desperate to kill an inmate and it can't get its hands on the key drug in the lethal cocktail?

Texas and Georgia solved that problem by turning to local compounding pharmacies who were only too willing to mix up a batch of a powerful sedative in exchange for some cold, hard cash. Florida decided to use a drug that had never been used before in an execution under the theory that the inmate would end up dead so there'd be no one to complain about the process afterward.

Missouri changed its protocol so they could use the drug propofol as the sedative in its lethal mix. For those of y'all scoring at home, propofol is the sedative that Michael Jackson overdosed on back in 2009. And, as in interesting little twist, Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of causing Mr. Jackson's death, was just released from prison after serving almost half of his four-year sentence.

But Missouri's best laid plans fell apart when the company that manufactures the drug, Germany's Fresenius Kabi, announced they would not sell it to any state or state agency that planned on using the drug as part of its lethal injection protocol.

The announcement stemmed from an EU statute outlawing the exporting of any drugs for use in capital punishment.

As a result, Missouri is now looking to acquire pentobarbital to carry out its executions. However, since the manufacturer of pentobarbital has already said they will not sell their wares to anyone for use in the state-sponsored murder of inmates. Missouri will likely look to local pharmacists to see who is more interested in turning a profit than in helping the sick and the ill. My guess is they won't have to look long for takers.

Of course the problem with acquiring the drugs from a compounding pharmacy is the fact that there is no quality control checks on the drugs. The drugs aren't subject to testing by the FDA to ensure that they do what they purport to do. There are no studies to determine whether or not the inmate undergoes any pain or discomfort during the procedure. So long as the second drug in the cocktail (the paralytic agent) works, there is no way of knowing whether the inmate senses any of what is happening since he would be unable to alert anyone.

But the states, the politicians who favor capital punishment and supporters of state-sponsored murder don't care. The state isn't interested in watching over those it locks up in its prisons. Politicians are all too happy to pander to the bloodlust of the right. And supporters are so caught up in their Old Testament notions of revenge that they fail to see that the world has changed.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Paul, I suspect that many of the compounding pharmacies are prepared to jump ship on the states after what happened with Dr. Lovloi and the Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy. Basically TX made an example of them and gave the other compounding pharmacies the perfect reason to politely decline the request for supply. TDCJ shot themselves in the foot and did a huge step forward to the abolition movement. I do not see any compounding pharmacy that is going to want to do business with TDCJ in the future.