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Deathrow Drug Shortage!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by vAsSiLy77, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. vAsSiLy77

    vAsSiLy77Experienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Jun 21, 2010
     
    ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS 01/11/11
    FDA helps states get execution drug
    The Food and Drug Administration, which has long maintained that it has nothing to do with drugs used in executions, has quietly helped Arizona and California obtain a scarce type of anesthetic so the states could continue putting inmates to death.
    The shortage of sodium thiopental has disrupted executions around the country. But newly released documents show the FDA helped import it from Britain.
    Most state prison systems use sodium thiopental to put inmates to sleep before administering pancuronium bromide, a paralyzing agent, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.
    But the drug has been in short supply since last spring, when Ohio nearly had to postpone an execution because it did not have enough.
    The sole American manufacturer, Hospira Inc. of Lake Forest, Ill., in suburban Chicago, has blamed supplier issues for its inability to make the drug, which is marketed to render patients unconscious, not for lethal injections. Any remaining batches expire this year.
    After Arizona officials explained their need, an FDA official recommended a shipment of the drug "be processed expeditiously to us as it was for the purpose of executions and not for use by the general public."
    The information is contained in an e-mail from an Arizona prison official to the California prisons agency obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a public records request. The ACLU then posted it online.
    The ACLU accused the FDA of trying to hold two contradictory positions at once.
    "The FDA is actively assisting these states, but they're not enforcing the law, and they're not doing anything to determine that the drugs are what they're claimed to be and that they work properly," said Natasha Minkser, death penalty policy director for the ACLU's Northern California chapter.
    A federal lawsuit in Arizona challenges the use of overseas drugs, saying they may be substandard and could lead to botched executions if they do not put an inmate to sleep properly.
    The FDA would not comment on its role in helping either state.
    The agency is required by law to assure the safety and effectiveness of drugs imported for medical purpose. But agency officials maintain that their oversight does not extend to drugs for executions, citing a 1985 Supreme Court ruling.
    "Reviewing substances imported or used for the purpose of state-authorized lethal injection clearly falls outside of FDA's explicit public health role," agency spokesman Christopher Kelly said.
    Records show many states have scrambled to find enough of the drug.
    In Washington state, officials "called every community hospital in the state" until they found one willing to provide the drug last year, according to an internal California prisons department e-mail released by the ACLU.
    When the prison system is looking for drug supplies, it's common practice to contact local pharmacies, said Washington prisons spokeswoman Maria Peterson.
    California tried to recruit private doctors who could procure the drug and went from state to state looking for supplies, including Arizona, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia, records show.
    The state also contacted dozens of hospitals and general surgery centers, Veterans Administration hospitals and the federal Bureau of Prisons. It even looked into obtaining a supply from Pakistan.
    At least three states — Arizona, Arkansas and Tennessee — appear to have gotten supplies of the drug from England, records showed. The documents did not indicate whether the FDA was involved in the Arkansas or Tennessee purchases.
    Arizona sought the FDA's help as it prepared to execute Jeffrey Landrigan for the 1989 murder of a Phoenix man.
    Arizona then provided California with 12 grams of sodium thiopental in September. In December, California paid $36,415 for 521 grams of the drug from a British manufacturer. The drug has yet to arrive.
    Arizona acknowledged last fall getting drugs from an English company.
    "We have followed the lead of Arkansas and purchased the drugs from a company in London," Charles Flanagan, deputy director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, said in a Sept. 28 e-mail to John McAuliffe, a California prisons official.
    Arkansas prisons spokeswoman Dina Tyler declined to comment.
    Texas, with the country's busiest death chamber, has enough of the drug for 39 executions, but its supply expires in March, according to records obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.
    Missouri has said its dwindling supply expires this year, too.
    Death penalty opponents have argued that expired drugs could be weakened and hence less effective.
    Virginia, which executed a woman in late September, had an expired batch in early August that it tried unsuccessfully to get the FDA to approve, according to e-mails obtained by the ACLU from the California prison system.
    "They ran into brick wall when they tried this with the FDA," the California e-mail said.
    Virgnia executed a woman about six weeks later. It was unclear whether any expired drugs were used. A prisons spokesman declined to comment.
    In early 2010, Tennessee shared its sodium thiopental with Georgia and Arkansas but scrambled by midyear to find its own supply, with a fall execution pending.
    In September, the warden of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, where Tennessee conducts executions, ordered sodium thiopental, apparently from a British company. It was delivered just days before a scheduled execution.
    At least one state has managed to avoid the shortage by switching from sodium thiopental to pentobarbital, a drug commonly used to put animals to sleep. Oklahoma has conducted three executions with the new drug
    Welsh-Huggins reported from Columbus, Ohio. Associated Press writers Bob Johnson in Montgomery, Ala., Kristin Hall in Nashville and Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.

    The Associated Press 01/18/11
    States with trouble finding execution drug
    Records show several states that use sodium thiopental for lethal injections have scrambled to find enough of the drug because of manufacturing issues. Among them:
    — ALABAMA: Says it has enough unexpired sodium thiopental to carry out Wednesday's execution of Leroy White, sentenced to die for the Oct. 17, 1988, shotgun slaying in Huntsville of his 35-year-old estranged wife, Ruby.
    — CALIFORNIA: California tried to recruit private doctors to procure the drug and went from state to state looking for supplies, including Arizona, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia, records show. The state also contacted dozens of hospitals and general surgery centers, VA hospitals and the federal Bureau of Prisons, and even looked into obtaining a supply from Pakistan.
    — MISSOURI: Officials told The Associated Press in fall 2010 that its supply would expire this year. Documents released by the ACLU said the state has enough for five executions but it's unclear when that stock expires. Without explanation, Gov. Jay Nixon spared a Missouri inmate scheduled to die Wednesday; the state's next scheduled execution is Feb. 9.
    — TENNESSEE: Tennessee in early 2010 gave Georgia and Arkansas some of its sodium thiopental. But by summer, with a fall execution pending, they scrambled to find their own supply. On Sept. 9, the prison where Tennessee executions are held ordered sodium thiopental, apparently from a British company. It was delivered by Oct. 26, just days before a scheduled execution.
    — TEXAS: Has enough of the drug to carry out 39 executions, but the supply expires in March, according to records obtained by the AP through a public records request. The state is waiting to see if the drug's sole U.S. manufacturer will have supplies to buy soon, Texas prisons spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said. Death row inmate Cleve Foster received a reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday night on an unrelated appeal. He was sentenced to die for the abduction, rape and shooting death of Nyaneur "Mary" Pal on Valentine's Day 2002.
    — VIRGINIA: Virginia, which executed a woman in late September, had an expired batch in early August that it tried unsuccessfully to get the FDA to approve, according to e-mails obtained by the ACLU from the California prison system. Virginia executed a woman about six weeks later and said it was in the same position as other states when it came to its supply. Virginia's prison department declined to comment.
    — WASHINGTON STATE: Officials checked with the state's hospitals until they found one willing to provide the drug last year, according to an internal California prisons department e-mail released by the ACLU. It's common practice when the prison system is looking for drug supplies to contact local pharmacies, many of which are at community hospitals, said Washington prisons spokeswoman Maria Peterson.
    http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/nati ... ion-drug-0

    Another Illinois Death Penalty Development (Robert Bradley)
    Hospira,Inc., a Lake Forest, Illinois based company, just announced it will stop production of its brand of sodium thiopental, which is a key part of the drug cocktail used in lethal injections for executions in this nation. The drug was being made in a plant in Italy. However, the Italian parliament recently issued an order that the drug could not be used for capital punishment. To comply with the order the company decided to cease its production.
    Before this decision, Oklahoma had already sought a replacement for sodium thiopental due to a shortfall in its availability. It became the first state to approve a substitute, pentobarbital, for sodium thiopental for use in lethal injections. Last November, a federal district judge approved the use of pentobarbital for two pending executions. In December, a federal appeals court agreed with the decision by the district judge, and a couple of days later John Duty was executed with the substitute drug. Four other states have delayed pending executions awaiting court approval to change drugs for lethal injections.
    So if Governor Quinn decides to veto the legislative proposal to ban the death penalty and stops the moratorium on executions, then before the state performs a lethal injection it will have to seek court approval for a switch in drug protocol.
    http://wjbc.com/bradley-another-illinoi ... velopment/

    The Associated Press 01/22/11
    German minister: No thiopental to US
    Germany's health minister (edit by me:) Philipp Roesler (FDP) is urging the nation's leading drug companies and distributors to ignore requests from the U.S. for supplies of a key drug used in lethal injections.
    A spokesman for Philipp Roesler confirmed Saturday the minister had written a letter to the nation's leading pharmaceutical companies "urgently" appealing to them not to respond to requests from the U.S. for the drug, sodium thiopental.
    Supplies of the drug are growing short after the sole U.S. manufacturer ceased production. It is still marketed in Germany as an anesthetic.
    Although German law does not prohibit sale of the drug abroad, Roesler urged drug companies to understand that its potential use in the U.S. is not in keeping with German and European values.
    http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/worl ... opental-us

    further reading about Sodium thiopental and it's abuse:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_thiopental
     

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