"Ga. to use compounding pharmacy for execution drug," is by Kate Brumback, via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The state of Georgia plans to use a compounding pharmacy to obtain an execution drug for an inmate scheduled to die next week, making it one of the first states to acknowledge using these pharmacies as execution drugs become increasingly difficult to get.
The Department of Corrections will get pentobarbital from a compounding pharmacy for the execution of Warren Lee Hill, which is set for Monday, spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan said in an email Thursday. The state's supply of pentobarbital expired in March. It has become tough for states to get the drug because the manufacturer has said it doesn't want it used in executions.
Compounding pharmacies custom-mix small batches of a drug for specific clients. They've come under scrutiny after a deadly meningitis outbreak was linked to contaminated injections made by a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. The FDA considers compounding pharmacy products unapproved drugs and does not verify their safety or effectiveness.
It's hard to tell how many states have used or are planning to use compounding pharmacies for execution drugs because states frequently resist disclosing the source of the drugs, death penalty experts said.
South Dakota has confirmed that it used compounded pentobarbital in an execution in October. A handful of other states that had acknowledged execution drug shortages have begun scheduling executions months into the future, suggesting they've found a stable supply, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.
Georgia Department of Corrections emails obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request make it clear that the state is using a compounding pharmacy to mix a doctor-prescribed dose of pentobarbital for Hill. The names of the sender and recipient of the emails are redacted, but it is clear from an email signature that one person is a corrections employee and the other person appears to be a doctor.
"I spoke with the compounding pharmacist earlier today and I wanted to relay some instructions he gave regarding the prescription," the corrections employee wrote in an email dated Monday. "Along with the patient name, he also needs their birthday and social security number. I will be happy to forward this information along to you when you are preparing to write the prescription."
Another email from Tuesday provides the relevant information for Hill and says the Department will need six 50-milliliter syringes of pentobarbital.
In response to questions about the emails, Hogan confirmed that the department would use a compounding pharmacy.
The Guardian reports, "Georgia scrambles for fresh supply of drugs to execute death row inmate." it's by Ed Pilkington.
The state of Georgia is scrambling to obtain a new supply of the sedative pentobarbital for use in lethal injections ahead of the scheduled execution of Warren Hill on Monday night.
The Georgia corrections department confirmed that, with just days to go before Hill's death sentence is due to be carried out, it has not yet secured a batch of the medical drug in sufficient quantity to kill him. The department's existing stock of pentobarbital expired in March, and the Guardian understands that the state has turned to an unidentified compounding pharmacy in another state to try and skirt around international controls.
The ungainly spectacle of a US state desperately seeking a supply of pharmaceutical in order to kill a man provides a snapshot of the dire condition of the death penalty in many of the 32 states that still practice it. An international boycott of trade in medicines to corrections departments for use in executions, led by the European Commission, has reduced stocks to such a low level that many states are struggling to carry out any executions at all.
In an attempt to circumvent international and national scrutiny, the Georgia state assembly passed a law in March that in effect permitted the corrections department to act in secret in seeking to acquire execution drugs. The provision classifies the identity of any person or company providing drugs for use in lethal injections as a "state secret", thereby negating any public right to the information.
It also allows the corrections department to keep secret the identity of doctors who collaborate with executions by administering lethal injections in contravention of their ethical code.
Other states including Arkansas, South Dakota and Tennessee have also introduced secrecy provisions designed to foil the boycott by keeping the identities of suppliers hidden. But lawyers and human rights groups have protested against the creeping secrecy in something as fundamental as the judicial taking of life.
Maya Foa, a death penalty drugs expert with Reprieve, said that lack of scrutiny meant it would be more difficult to ensure that the execution did not stray into torture or cruel and unusual punishment. "I would question what Georgia has to hide," she said.
Sara Totonchi of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights said that by shrouding the supply route in secrecy "they are cutting off from the public an act that is desperately needed – oversight."