Death Penalty

Two pharma companies file to stop Arkansas from using their drugs to execute seven inmates

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lethal injection

Arkansas’ plan to execute seven inmates in less than two weeks has drawn the ire of two pharmaceutical companies who are trying to stop the state from using their drugs as part of the lethal injection procedure.

Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. filed an amicus brief (PDF) in an ongoing lawsuit filed by seven death row inmates scheduled for execution over an 11-day period starting April 17, Arkansas Online, the and Slate report. The drug companies stated in their filing that they have strict protocols and chain-of-custody procedures in place to prevent their drugs from being used in executions, and argued if the state has their compounds, then they must have been “acquired from an unauthorized seller.”

“The use of the medicines in lethal injections runs counter to the manufacturers’ mission to save and enhance patients’ lives, and carries with it not only a public-health risk, but also reputational, fiscal, and legal risks,” the drug companies said in their brief.

Arkansas has not executed anyone since 2005 due to a shortage of lethal injection drugs and legal challenges. Last month, the state claimed to have received a supply of potassium chloride, the compound used to stop the heart. Gov. Asa Hutchinson then immediately scheduled eight executions. One inmate was given a reprieve; the other seven remain on the schedule.

A West-Ward official told Arkansas Online that he has made repeated requests to the Alabama Attorney General and the Department of Corrections “to confirm if they are in possession of our product which they intend to use in lethal injections, and if so to return it to us.”

Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves told Arkansas Online that he does not comment on pending litigation. Governor Hutchinson has previously stated that he decided to schedule the executions promptly because the state’s supply of midazolam, one of the other drugs in the lethal injection protocol, was about to expire.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge declined to comment to the Washington Post about whether she believed the drugs could be lawfully used.

Earlier this week, ABA President Linda Klein sent a letter to Hutchinson asked him to delay this month’s accelerated series of executions scheduled for this month.

“We are troubled that this current execution schedule … prioritizes expediency above due process,” Klein said in her letter. “Because neither Arkansas decision-makers nor defense counsel currently have adequate time to ensure that these executions are carried out with due process of law, we simply ask that you modify the current execution schedule to allow for adequate time between executions.”

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