Missouri joins U.S. states getting execution drugs from new suppliers

Reuters

By Carey Gillam

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Oct 22 (Reuters) - A "compoundingpharmacy" will supply lethal injection drugs for futureexecutions in Missouri, the latest U.S. state to turn to thelightly regulated sector after major pharmaceutical companiesrefused to sell drugs for executions, the state said on Tuesday.

The Missouri Department of Corrections said in a briefstatement that it would switch to using a single drug forexecutions, pentobarbital. Missouri had used a three drugprotocol until recently.

"The department also announced that it has added acompounding pharmacy to its execution team," the statement said.Asked the name of the pharmacy, department spokesman David Owensaid that information could not be disclosed.

Missouri is the latest of a half dozen U.S. states turningfor lethal injection drugs to compounding pharmacies - whichtypically mix drugs for individual prescriptions and are subjectto light federal government regulation.

The practice has drawn protests from opponents of the deathpenalty and advocates for death row inmates, who say the lack ofregulation risks a botched execution.

A Massachusetts compounding pharmacy was the source oftainted pain injections which caused an outbreak of a rare typeof meningitis last year that killed at least 50 people andsickened hundreds in 20 states.

Compounding pharmacies must register with state authoritiesbut their products are not regulated by the Food and DrugAdministration.

Texas this month executed its first prisoner using a drugfrom a compounding pharmacy. Other states which have turned tosuch suppliers or have said they may do so soon include Georgia,South Dakota, Colorado and Ohio.

A judge in Georgia this year granted a temporary stay ofexecution for a prisoner in part because of concerns about thequality of the compounded drug.

Missouri announced earlier this month that it would searchfor a new drug for executions after it came under pressure fromdrug makers, especially in Europe, not to use the drug propofolin executions.

A German maker of the drug, Fresenius Kabi, hadsuspended shipments to a U.S. distributor after some of the drugwas provided to Missouri for executions.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had published onits website embarrassing details of emails from the drugsupplier pleading for Missouri not use the drug propofol inexecutions because of pressure from Europe.

The ACLU issued a statement on Tuesday after theannouncement, protesting Missouri's decision to keep theidentity of its new supplier of lethal injection drugs secret.

"The state has retaliated by now making it illegal to nameanyone who supplies the drugs. This is not the open andtransparent government that Missourians deserve," the ACLU said.

Joseph Paul Franklin is the next Missouri inmate scheduledfor execution on Nov. 20.

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