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3 companies object to drugs' use in execution

13 July 2018, 08:23 | Devin Moran

Nevada to execute inmate with fentanyl in U.S. first

Death row inmate Scott Dozier appears before Judge Jennifer Togliatti during a hearing about his execution at the Regional Justice Center on Monday Sept. 11 2017 in downtown Las Vegas. Richard

The US state of Nevada postponed the execution by lethal injection of a murderer with the controversial opioid fentanyl on Wednesday, hours before he was due to die, US media reported.

Alvogen claims in court papers that the drug was obtained by state officials through subterfuge, including the misuse of the Nevada chief medical officer's licence to buy controlled medications that were then illegally diverted for use in the execution chamber. Pharmaceutical companies have resisted the use of their drugs in executions for 10 years, citing both legal and ethical concerns.

US drug manufacturers have increasingly refused to sell states any drugs that could be used in the procedure, after disturbing details emerged from a series of botched lethal executions across the nation.A drug company unsuccessfully sued Arkansas past year to ban the state from using one of its drugs in the procedure.

Scott Dozier was set to be killed.

Dozier was convicted in 2007 of the murder of Jeremiah Miller, who was robbed and shot in 2002 after traveling to Las Vegas, where Dozier had promised to help him get drugs to make methamphetamine.

Dozier, a twice-convicted killer who attempted suicide in the past, has said he prefers death to a life in prison.

"The Midazolam has been used in other executions in half a dozen other states with really bad consequences- seriously prolonged executions, with gasping really tortuous effects", says Nancy Hart with Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

The state is expected to appeal the judge's order to the state Supreme Court, and the judge in Las Vegas has scheduled a September 10 hearing involving drug company attorneys.

"NDOC has been advised not to comment on the lawsuit", department spokeswoman Brooke Santina said in an email Tuesday.

Alvogen said the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of midazolam as therapy and any other use is an offence.

Following the use of midazolam in a number of botched executions, Alvogen wrote to the governors, attorney generals and prison authorities in every state with a death penalty saying it "strongly objects to the use of its products in capital punishment".




The order is the first time a drug company has successfully sued to halt an execution in the US involving one of its drugs.

Following his arrest on June 25, 2002, Dozier was connected to another crime, the murder of Jasen "Griffin" Green, whose remains had been found in a plastic container in the desert north of Phoenix a year earlier.

The company further alleges that the doctor who acts as medical officer at the execution will be breaking a Nevada law requiring that a physician administer controlled drugs exclusively for a legitimate medical objective. She tells the Guardian execution strategies are normally reviewed by courts through inmate appeals.

Nevada's new execution protocol also calls for the use of fentanyl to slow the inmate's breathing and cisatracurium to stop his breathing.

According to a statement, the execution "will not take place until further notice".

The state high court in May decided on procedural grounds that the execution could go forward but did not review the three-drug protocol that death penalty experts have characterized as experimental and risky.

Todd Bice, a lawyer for Alvogen, accused Nevada of deceptively obtaining the company's drug by having it shipped to a pharmacy in Las Vegas rather than the state prison in Ely. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid well known for its role in the opioid epidemic, has "never been used in an execution before". The state refused, however.

There was a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison, Dozier said in court hearings and letters a year ago, according to ABC News in the US.

Dozier told a judge that he doesn't really care if he suffers when he dies. Miller's head was never found and he was identified by tattoos on his torso.

Death-penalty watchers have pointed to inconsistent results with midazolam since the 2014 executions of Dennis McGuire in OH and Josph Rudolph Wood III in Arizona.

They argued that the untried three-drug combination would be less humane than putting down a pet.



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