April 14 Two pharmaceuticals companies asked a
federal court to block Arkansas from using their drugs for
upcoming executions, claiming that doing so would violate
contractual controls and create a public health risk, court
Arkansas, which has not had an execution in 12 years, plans
to kill seven inmates over 11 days from April 17, including
three pairs of dual executions. No state has ever executed as
many inmates in as short a period since the U.S. Supreme Court
reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
The inmates scheduled to die by lethal injection this month
have launched a series of motions in federal court in Little
Rock to block the proceedings. They argue that the rush to the
death chamber increases the chances of a botched execution.
Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. filed
a brief on Thursday asking a federal court in Arkansas to take
into consideration that the use of their drugs during a lethal
injection "violates contractual supply-chain controls" they have
it place, according to an online court document.
The companies sell their drugs only to wholesalers and
distributors that agree to resell only to acute-care hospitals,
clinics and healthcare facilities. They also instruct resellers
not to sell or deliver their drugs to correctional facilities,
according to the brief.
The companies also claim that use of their drugs as part of
a lethal injection cocktail would create a public health risk by
decreasing the supply of the medications and that the improper
buying and selling of the drugs makes them unsafe.
"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
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has said the state must
act quickly because the efficacy date for one of the chemicals
in its lethal injection mix, the sedative midazolam, expires at
the end of April.
Arkansas uses potassium chloride in combination with
vecuronium bromide and midazolam. The latter drug is intended to
render the inmate unconscious before the other two chemicals are
administered to paralyze the lungs and stop the heart.
The companies did not disclose which of their drugs Arkansas
will use during the executions.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)