"Ohio clears specialty drug-makers in executions," is by Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Julie Carr Smyth for AP. It's via the Lake Wylie Pilot.
Ohio could begin executing inmates with doses of a lethal injection drug prepared by specialized pharmacies under a change in its execution process prompted by difficulties securing the powerful sedative last used by the state.
New Ohio prisons department execution rules allowing compounding pharmacies were filed in federal court Friday, just days after the state's last supplies of pentobarbital expired. Such businesses custom-make drugs but aren't subject to federal scrutiny.
The new policy also establishes an alternative intravenous drug combination — the sedative midazolam with the opiate hydromorphone — if expired pentobarbital is deemed unusable or if new supplies of the drug are unavailable.
Federal public defender Allen Bohnert said he was reviewing the new drug protocol's potential role in federal litigation challenging Ohio's execution procedures. The policy is in effect for the scheduled November execution of Ronald Phillips, sentenced to die for raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993.
"We're disappointed that Ohio has chosen to turn to these unregulated and questionable sources for their official execution drug," said Bohnert, who doesn't represent Phillips. A federal judge has indicated he would review the new policy.
"Ohio says may seek execution drugs from compounding pharmacies," is Reuters coverage by Kim Palmer, via GlobalPost.
Ohio prison officials said Friday they are changing current policies on executions that could include using drugs from compounding pharmacies, an industry that has come under increased scrutiny from regulators.
The shift in the state's policy, which takes effect on October 10, comes just three weeks after the state used its last dose of the barbiturate pentobarbital to execute condemned murderer Harry Mitts. Mitts was convicted of killing a Cleveland-area police officer and the boyfriend of a neighbor in 1994.
Ohio, along with Texas and other U.S. states, have been struggling to secure drugs for use in lethal injections. Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck LLC, manufacturer of pentobarbital, said in 2011 it was restricting distribution because of European Union opposition to the death penalty.
Many states are looking to compounding pharmacies to get the drugs they need for executions. But using ingredients often imported from China and other Asian markets, the pharmacies have little state or federal oversight to ensure the purity and potency of the drugs they whip up. Death penalty opponents and advocates for inmates on death row have complained the drugs from these unconventional pharmacies may cause unnecessary suffering in executions.
The new Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction execution protocol is available in Adobe .pdf format.
Earlier coverage of Ohio lethal injeciton issues begins at the link.