After recently running out of supplies of pentobarbital, some states have obtained the lethal injection drug from compound pharmacies.
The state of Texas said on Oct. 7 it will not return its supply of pentobarbital to The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy demanding it back. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said, "The drugs were purchased legally by the agency."
"It was my belief that this information would be kept on the 'down low' and that it was unlikely that it would be discovered that my pharmacy provided these drugs." Jasper Lovoi, owner, The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy
On Oct. 1, lawyers filed a federal lawsuit for three death row inmates saying that Texas' use of an untested drug violates their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The lawyer for death row inmate Warren Lee Hill filed a similar complaint related to Georgia's lethal drug secrecy laws.
"We will be unable to use our current supply of pentobarbital after it expires. We are exploring all options at this time." Jason Clark , spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Compounding pharmacies aren't subject to FDA regulation, raising concerns about drug contamination. Lawyers for inmates allege pentobarbital can cause a possibly painful and prolonged death. Several states, including Georgia, have enacted secrecy laws around the origins of their lethal drugs.
Ohio announced Oct. 28 that it would use an untested drug cocktail to execute its next prisoner Nov. 14. The state's pentobarbital supply expired Sept. 25 when its last death row inmate was executed. Shortly after, Ohio set up new rules allowing prisons to buy pentobarbital from compounding pharmacies.
Missouri had considered reinstating the gas chamber to continue its executions, but on Oct. 22 announced it too would use a private compounding pharmacy to obtain pentobarbital supplies. Arkansas has pursued the use of an execution drug not approved by the FDA.
Pharmaceutical companies worldwide have boycotted the sale of drugs used for executions to U.S. prison systems in recent years. Alternatives like the gas chamber or electric chair would be problematic for states and could "raise the spectacle" level, according to death penalty expert Richard Dieter.
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