BUSINESS
04/14/2017 07:24 am ET Updated Apr 14, 2017

2 Companies Intervene To Block Their Drugs In 'Assembly Line' Arkansas Executions

Use of the drugs in the planned seven executions "runs counter to manufacturers' mission to save lives," the firms say.

Two pharmaceutical companies are asking a federal judge to stop Arkansas from using their drugs in the planned execution of seven men in 11 days this month.

The European-owned Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. filed a friend of the court brief in support of a lawsuit by inmates because they’re opposed to their drugs being used in capital punishment.

“The use of the medicines in lethal injections runs counter to the manufacturers’ mission to save and enhance patients’ lives, and carries with it not only a public-health risk, but also reputational, fiscal and legal risks,” the companies said in their brief. 

The drugs’ use in executions is a breach of the companies’ “supply chain” controls, argues the brief, which was filed Thursday. The manufacturers “sell only to wholesalers and distributers who agree to resell only to acute-care hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities,” and the drugs were never intended to be used in executions, it states.

“The only conclusion is that these medicines were acquired from an unauthorized seller in violation of important contractual terms that the manufacturers relied on,” the companies added.

In addition, using drugs for capital punishment “creates a public-health risk because it could result in the denial of medicines from patients who need them most,” the brief stated.

Arkansas hasn’t executed anyone in more than a decade. Now officials plan to begin with a double execution on Monday and finish executions on April 27. (An eighth man, Jason McGehee, won a reprieve.) One defense attorney blasted the schedule as an “assembly line” execution, Reuters reported.

The state is reportedly rushing to kill the men before its supply of the controversial sedative midazolam used in executions runs out at the end of April. The drug has been implicated in botched executions in Ohio, Arizona and Oklahoma.

Arkansas officials won’t say where they obtained the drugs they intend to use, but Fresenius Kabi is suspected of manufacturing the potassium chloride — which stops the heart — planned for the executions. And The Associated Press reports that West-Ward is the likely source of the midazolam the state plans to use.

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