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Oklahoma pharmacy execution lawsuit: Lethal injection drug causes 'inhuman pain'

Oklahoma pharmacy won't provide drugs to put a death row inmate to death.
Oklahoma pharmacy won't provide drugs to put a death row inmate to death.
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

An Oklahoma pharmacy won’t supply a drug needed for an execution that is scheduled next week for an inmate on death row in Missouri. The drug will cause “inhuman pain” claims a lawsuit filed against the Oklahoma pharmacy by the inmate. As a part of the settlement of this lawsuit, the pharmacy has to agree not to provide the drug to that is needed to execute the death row prisoner, according to CBS News on Feb. 18.

Death row inmate Michael Taylor had his lawyer’s file this lawsuit against the compounding pharmacy, the Apothecary Shoppe. He is now asking that the judge dismiss the case because the pharmacy agrees not to supply the prison system with the drug to be used in his lethal injection death sentence.

The pharmacy also stated that it had not previously provided any drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections for Taylor’s execution. This didn’t change things for Taylor’s execution as it was indicated by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon that the state could move ahead with putting the prisoner to death as planned.

Despite the judge’s temporary restraining order that was put in place on the pharmacy so they wouldn’t supply the drug, the execution will go on as planned. The Governor “stressed” that the Department of Corrections was prepared to put Taylor to death, but he wouldn’t say whether or not the prison system had enough of the drug needed for the lethal injection they planned to use.

Where does the “inhuman pain” come in?

The drug used for the lethal injection is a compounded pentobarbital. This is made by drug manufactures licensed and under the regulation of the FDA.

The manufacturers of this drug refuse to supply the pentobarbital to the prison systems or to any pharmacy that would provide the drug for the prison system. This is in protest of the death penalty.

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Because the prison systems around the nation were having trouble getting this drug from the manufacturers, they turned to compounding pharmacies, who are not regulated by the FDA. Taylor’s lawyers allege that Missouri turned to the Apothecary Shoppe to provide them with the pentobarbital because “the drug’s only licensed manufacturer refused to provide it for lethal injection.”

The attorneys allege in the lawsuit that when the compounded pentobarbital was used in several recent executions, the outcome showed it would likely cause Taylor "severe, unnecessary, lingering and ultimately inhumane pain."

Now that the prison system is seeking to get their supply of the drug from an unlicensed maker of the medication, the lawsuit suggests that this could render the death row inmate the "inhuman pain" if it isn't made to the licensed manufacturer's specifications. They would have no way of knowing if the drug passed these standards because the compounding pharmacies aren't regulated by the FDA.

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