A pharmacy attempting to provide a “compound execution drug” to jailers in Missouri was blocked by a U.S. judge on Wednesday. The drug was being provided to be used on the schedule execution of Michael Taylor. Mr Taylor had been convicted of the murder of a 15 year old girl.
In recent years many of the U.S. states that allow the death penalty are being forced to look for and find alternate drugs for use in their executions. The reason behind this new search for execution drugs is that pharmacies no longer wish to associate their products with capital punishments. This has given rise to “compounding pharmacies” which produce only small amounts of drugs at a time, rather than mass producing, while being on the outside of U.S. FDA inspection. Many defense attorneys are pointing to the compound pharmacies and questioning the legality and quality of the execution drugs that they are providing. Defense attorneys fear that these new drugs could cause prolonged and unnecessary pain to their charges.
Terence Kern, a U.S. District Court Judge, allowed a temporary restraining order against one of these compound pharmacies: The Apothecary Shoppe. Their drug will not be allowed to be used by the Missouri Department of Corrections.
This ruling was given after the defense attorney in charge of Taylor argued that he fears for “severe, unnecessary, lingering and ultimately inhumane pain” if the drug were to be administered. The discussion on these compound pharmaceutical drugs has given rise to a whole new discussion as it relates to capital punishment. This ruling follows the execution of a fellow prisoner where eyewitnesses stated it was a cruel process and the inmate dispayed visable signs of suffering.
Regardless of the stance on takes on capital punishment, this rise of compound drugs has opened the door to changing the outlook on capital punishment.
Patrick Donovan is a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts. Attorney Donovan is a former assistant district attorney who has appeared in over fifty courts in Massachusetts.