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Death row inmates now executed with drug cocktail used to euthanize animals

death-row-inmates-drug-cocktail_siFacing a shortage of supplies for lethal injections, US law enforcement officials have begun executing prisoners with an animal anesthetic that has not been approved at the federal level, with the first such execution coming this week.

European pharmacies, citing a moral issue with capital  punishment, have stopped sending certain drugs to regions of the  US that still carry out the death penalty, areas that include  Ohio, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and Arizona.

States are still using pentobarbital, intended to euthanize  animals, while local supplies last but those without that option  have begun “making changes in their lethal injection  process,” Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty  Information Center, told Agence France Presse.

Missouri began using propofol, the anesthetic that killed pop  star Michael Jackson, but when the German supplier discovered how  the drug was being used it ceased distribution to Missouri. The  same happened when Denmark found out other states were using  drugs produced there to execute prisoners.

“This is a continuing theme: every time a state starts to use  a new drug, the company that makes that drug stops selling  it,” said Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham  University and expert on the subject.

Compounding pharmacies, which create specialized pharmaceutical  product meant to fit the needs of a patient, have begun producing  the drugs for state authorities.

But because of the lack of transparency around the production  process – one compounding pharmacy was responsible for a fatal  meningitis outbreak in 2012 because of poor hygiene – prisoners  argue that risky drug cocktails put them at risk of being  subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment,” which is  prohibited under the US Constitution.

Earlier this month three Texas-based death row prisoners filed a  lawsuit arguing this type of pharmacy is “not subject to  stringent FDA regulations” and is “one of the leading  sources for counterfeit drugs entering the US,” the lawsuit  reads, as quoted by AFP.

“There is a significant chance that [the pentobarbital] could  be contaminated, creating a grave likelihood that the lethal  injection process could be extremely painful, or harm or handicap  plaintiffs without actually killing them,” it adds.

“Nobody really knows the quality of the drugs, because of the  lack of oversight,” Denno told AFP.

Michael Yowell, who was convicted of murdering his parents 15  years ago, was executed in Texas Wednesday. He became the first  inmate to be executed in Texas with pentobarbital since European  nations halted production for this purpose. His lawyers  unsuccessfully tried to stop him from being killed, saying the  compounded factors in pentobarbital make the drug unpredictable  and there have not been enough trials to guarantee the death is  painless.

The states in question may find an applicable replacement for the  short-term but, Denno argued, this development could be an  indication that capital punishment is on the wane.

“How many times in this country can they change the way they  execute?” she said. “There were more changes in lethal  injections in the last 5 years than in the 25 preceding  years.”

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Source:http://rt.com/usa/death-row-inmates-drug-cocktail-017/

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