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A federal judge has blocked a Tulsa compounding pharmacy from furnishing a drug for a Missouri execution

A temporary restraining order has been issued in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa by Missouri death row inmate Michael Taylor.
By TIM TALLEY Published: February 13, 2014
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Along with asking for a temporary restraining order, the lawsuit seeks an injunction barring the pharmacy from delivering “this unidentified, unregulated, untested and unsafe pharmaceutical product.” Hellman declined to say whether The Apothecary Shoppe also sells compounded pentobarbital to states other than Missouri.

‘Inhumane pain'

Several recent executions that involved compounded pentobarbital indicate use of the drug will subject Taylor to “inhumane pain,” the lawsuit says.

One such execution was that of Oklahoma death row inmate Michael Lee Wilson, 38. Within 20 seconds of receiving the lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary on Jan. 9 Wilson said: “I feel my whole body burning.” The lawsuit alleges the statement describes “a sensation consistent with receipt of contaminated pentobarbital.”

Suit describes inmate death

The lawsuit also sites an Oct. 15, 2012, execution in which South Dakota death row inmate Eric Robert, 50, cleared his throat, gasped for air and then snored after receiving the lethal injection.

His skin turned a purplish hue and his heart continued to beat for 10 minutes after he stopped breathing. It took 20 minutes for authorities to finally declare Robert dead.

“These events are consistent with receipt of a contaminated or sub-potent compounded drug,” the lawsuit says.

Use of the same drug in Taylor's execution could result in a similar reaction, Hellman said.

“It is extremely disturbing,” he said.

On Monday, Missouri Corrections Department Director George Lombardi told a legislative panel that the agency pays for the drug to be independently tested to make sure it works and is sterile.

He also said the agency had found no substantial issues in a background check of its current supplier.

Lombardi did not release the name of the pharmacy that provides the drug, saying Missouri could not carry out lethal injections if that information were released. He said the state pays $8,000 in cash to the pharmacy for the drug.


Those manufacturers do not want medication to be used for executions.”

Matthew Hellman,
of the Washington, D.C., law firm Jenner & Block

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