Today's Harrisburg Patriot-News reports, "Pennsylvania gets its execution drugs from same type of pharmacy as the one responsible for bacterial meningitis outbreak." It's by Donald Gilliland.
The drugs Pennsylvania Department of Corrections uses for its lethal injection executions are not standard, FDA-approved medications, but rather made-to-order drugs designed by the same kind of pharmacy - a "compounding pharmacy" - that is currently at the center of a nationwide epidemic of bacterial meningitis among people injected with made-to-order steroids.
Compounding pharmacies mix drugs to order on site and are largely free of the federal quality assurance regulation that applies to standardized drugs, being regulated, instead, by state law.
In addition to producing adulterated products, such compounding pharmacies also have a history of producing drugs that are not of the dosage listed on the label.
That could be significant when it comes to the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's lethal injection protocol because the US Supreme Court has found that if the first drug in the three-drug protocol is not administered properly or at the correct dosage, unconstitutional and excruciating pain could result with the administration of the other two drugs.
A federal class action suit is challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's protocol and has the potential to stay all executions in the state for some time.
Compounded drugs are often cheaper than their FDA-approved equivalent.
The DOC fought hard to keep the source of its drugs out of court, snubbing two federal court orders to divulge the source of the drugs last week, finally complying at the last minute after the threat of sanctions.
The Attorney General's office also attempted on Monday to have federal court proceedings in the case closed to the public. Judge Yvette Kane denied that request, saying there were "issues of greater interest to the public" at stake in the case
Of immediate relevance is the execution of Hubert L. Michael Jr. scheduled for Thursday.
Kane did not issue a ruling on Monday, and asked attorneys to keep her apprised of other motions for a stay in other courts.
"Pa. high court rejects stay for condemned man," is the AP report by Peter Jackson. It's via the Reporter of Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday refused to stop the execution of convicted killer Hubert Michael, leaving him with dwindling options three days before he was scheduled to receive a lethal injection.
Justices on the state's highest court upheld rulings by a York County judge and the state Commonwealth Court on grounds that they lacked the authority to grant a stay.
But two federal judges are weighing motions filed by Michael's lawyers in separate cases to forestall the execution. Also, the state Pardons Board has scheduled a clemency hearing in the case at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Michael, 56, pleaded guilty to the 1993 shooting death of a teenage girl in York. Unless his execution is stayed, he would be the fourth inmate put to death in Pennsylvania in the last 50 years and the first in 13 years.