The latest AP filing is, "Company wants Neb. to return lethal injection drug." It's via CBS News.
A Swiss pharmaceutical company is asking Nebraska officials to return a drug the state plans to use to execute death row inmates.
Earlier this month, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services announced that it had obtained a new supply of sodium thiopental, one of three drugs needed to carry out executions by lethal injection, from Swiss company Naari AG. The drug is no longer manufactured in the United States and is in scarce supply worldwide.
But as first reported Tuesday by The Lincoln Journal Star, Naari CEO Prithi Kochhar said in a letter sent on Nov. 18 to Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning that his company did not supply the drug to the state and would never support its use for lethal reasons.
"I am shocked and appalled by this news," Kochhar wrote. "I am writing to request that the thiopental which was wrongfully diverted ... to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services be returned immediately to its rightful owners, that is, that it be returned to us at Naari."
The company gave free samples of the drug, produced at its Indian manufacturing facilities, to a man in India who said he wanted to use it and eventually sell it as an anesthetic in Zambia, Kochhar's letter said. Instead, the middleman sold the samples for $5,411 to Nebraska officials.
It is the second time Nebraska has gone to India for the drug and stirred contention by doing so.
In January, the state Department of Correctional Services announced it had obtained 500 grams of sodium thiopental from an Indian company, clearing the way for Nebraska's first execution by lethal injection. But questions soon arose about the legality of the purchase by Nebraska and other states, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency seized stockpiles of the drug from several states, including Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee.
The Lincoln Journal Star article that broke the news, "Maker of lethal injection drug wants it back," is by Cory Matteson.
When the Nebraska Department of Corrections announced Nov. 3 that it recently had purchased two batches of sodium thiopental made by a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Switzerland, Director Robert Houston said his department was ready once more to proceed with its statutory obligation to carry out capital punishment.
But 15 days later, the CEO of the pharmaceutical company Naari wrote a letter stating the company wants its drug returned.
"Naari did not supply these medicines directly to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and is deeply opposed to the use of the medications in executions," CEO Prithi Kochhar wrote in a letter addressed to Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican and also sent to Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning.
Houston and state Attorney General's Office Spokeswoman Shannon Kingery said in statements to the Journal Star on Monday that the 485 grams of sodium thiopental purchased for $5,411 and received Oct. 25 were legally obtained.
According to Kochhar's letter and an article published recently in an Indian weekly news magazine, a Calcutta, India-based middleman, Chris Harris, agreed to provide the 485 grams of sodium thiopental to drug officials in Zambia, where it would be used as an anaesthetic. Believing Harris would purchase a larger order of sodium thiopental, Naari gave him the vials of the drug toward the end of September, according to the article published in the December edition of Outlook.
Rather than provide it to Zambian officials, Harris sold the drugs to Nebraska officials for $5,411, according to the letter.
"He was not authorised (sic) to sell the product to the Nebraska Department of Corrections or to anyone else in the USA," Kochhar wrote in the letter.
A spokesman for Naari told Outlook, "We're not in the business of helping to execute people. We were lied to and cheated."
...Jerry Soucie, an attorney with the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, referred to Harris' role in procuring the earlier shipment of the drug that the DEA said was illegally imported in a May 2011 filing on behalf of death row inmate Carey Dean Moore.
Moore, convicted of killing two men, was scheduled to be executed June 14, but the state Supreme Court issued a stay of execution while Soucie challenged the purchase of the drugs in Douglas County District Court.
When the news about the acquisition of the Naari-manufactured sodium thiopental was released earlier this month, Bruning asked the Nebraska Supreme Court to set an execution date for convicted murderer Michael Ryan.
Soucie has until Wednesday to file documents regarding the execution of Ryan, who was convicted of killing James Thimm during a ritualistic torture at a farm near Rulo in 1985.
Today's Omaha World-Herald reports, "Prison to keep execution drug." It's by Joe Duggan.
Nebraska prison officials intend to keep a new supply of a lethal injection drug, over the objections of a pharmaceutical executive who says the drug was improperly obtained and sold to the state.
The chief executive officer of Naari, the Swiss company that produced the sodium thiopental — which is now waiting to be used in Nebraska's execution chamber — has asked the state to return the drug, saying it was obtained under false pretenses by a third-party broker. CEO Prithi Kochhar made the request in a Nov. 18 letter to Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican.
A spokeswoman for Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said Tuesday that corrections officials complied with all regulations set by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"The sodium thiopental received by NDCS was approved for legal export by the government of India and approved for legal import by the regulatory federal agencies of the United States," said spokeswoman Shannon Kingery. "It has been tested and positively identified as sodium thiopental."
A Nov. 3 press release about the drug purchase issued by the Department of Correctional Services mentioned the Swiss company by name.
Department officials never said they purchased the drug directly from the company, Smith said. The press release said only that the drug was manufactured by Naari.
Smith acknowledged Tuesday that the department bought the drug from Harris, a broker based in Calcutta.
The department sent an email to Harris on Tuesday seeking clarification about his arrangement with the company, Smith said. But Harris had not responded by the end of the business day.
The drug is no longer made in the United States and is becoming increasingly scarce abroad because of the controversy surrounding its use in lethal injections. Nebraska joined the market for the drug when it switched its execution method from electrocution to lethal injection in 2009.
Harris is the same broker that the Correctional Services Department used to obtain a previous supply of sodium thiopental, which became embroiled in a legal dispute over how it was imported from India.
"Swiss firm: Don't use our drugs for US executions," by Meritxell Mir for Switzerland's edition of the Local.
Basel-based pharmaceuticals company Naari has issued an impassioned plea to the US state of Nebraska to return drugs that could be used to kill prisoners on death row.
"Naari did not supply these medicines directly to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and is deeply opposed to the use of the medications in executions," CEO Prithi Kochhar wrote in a letter addressed to Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican. He also sent the letter to Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, the Journal Star newspaper reported.