As states deal with execution drug shortage, Missouri goes in different direction

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: May 31, 2012
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Missouri's attorney general recently joined Oklahoma's Scott Pruitt and 13 other colleagues in asking the Justice Department's help in gaining access to one of the three drugs those states use in executions. Meantime, though, Missouri has opted to simply use one drug it can get its hands on.

The Missouri Department of Corrections is switching to propofol, perhaps best known as the anesthetic that Michael Jackson overdosed on in 2009. Missouri would be the first state to use propofol as an execution drug, which naturally has anti-death penalty groups up in arms.

Missouri, Oklahoma and other states that use a three-drug mix in executions are in a bind because of the unavailability of one of the drugs, the sedative pentobarbital.

Makers of the drug oppose selling it for use in executions; the same thing happened with sodium thiopental, which for many years had been the first drug administered during executions.

In a recent letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Pruitt and fellow attorneys general asked the Justice Department to appeal a Food and Drug Administration decision to stop releasing imported thiopental to state corrections departments for use in executions. The FDA had done so as recently as January 2011, but stopped after a ruling by a federal court in the District of Columbia that the attorneys general say was incorrect.


by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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