There is continuing lethal injection news from several jurisdictions this morning. Let's begin in Ohio.
The new Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction execution protocol is available in Adobe .pdf format.
"Ohio Announces Alternative Lethal Injection Drug," is the Associated Press report filed by Julie Carr Smyth and Andrew Welsh-Huggins.
Ohio prison officials said Friday they are keeping their primary lethal injection drug in place despite the state's supply expiring, but they've added a second drug option for executioners to address the shortage.
Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the powerful sedative pentobarbital will remain Ohio's primary method of administering the death penalty. A policy posted to the prisons department's website listed a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone as an alternative if sufficient pentobarbital isn't available or if the existing supply "is deemed unusable" by the medical team.
The agency's announcement came just days after its last supplies of pentobarbital expired. The last dose before the expiration was used to put condemned killer Harry Mitts to death Sept. 15 for shooting two people, including a suburban Cleveland police officer.
The alternative drug regimen was included in a revised overall capital punishment policy released by the state.
A federal judge had already indicated he'll review the new execution process. If he allows the state to go ahead, it was not immediately clear whether the state would use pentobarbital that exceeds its expiration date or the new alternative drug combination in the November execution of Ronald Phillips, sentenced to die for raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993. Prisons chief Gary Mohr said on the day of Mitts' execution that the state wouldn't necessarily need to replace pentobarbital.
Among other states struggling to find alternatives are Georgia, Missouri and Arkansas. A legal challenge has placed Missouri's proposal to use propofol on hold, and anesthesiologists are asking the state to reconsider out of fear it could lead to restrictions of the drug needed for hospital use.
"Ohio can use compounding pharmacies for execution drugs," by Alan Johnson for the Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio’s revised execution policy maintains use of pentobarbital, a drug that is in short supply, but allows to the state get it from a new source: compounding pharmacies.
The revised policy, released this morning by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, makes no major changes other than the source of the drugs used.
The policy does not directly address the critical issue of the shortage of pentobarbital, the single drug currently used in executions. The state used what it said was the last of its supply of the drug in executing Harry Mitts Jr. of Cuyahoga County on Sept. 25.
However, it now says that pentobarbital, and the backup drugs, Midazolam, a sedative, and Hydromorphone, a strong opiate, can all be obtained from a “manufacturer, distributor or compounding pharmacy.” The state has been buying from manufacturers or distributors, but not compounding pharmacies.
Compounding pharmacies have come under fire in recent years because of problems with drugs, including a 2012 outbreak of fungal meningitis that killed 63 people and sickened hundreds, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Earlier coverage of Ohio lethal injection issues begins at the link.