Oklahoma’s Bothced Execution

I have to say– this is probably something your state doesn’t want to be known for. Last post, I discussed how EU pharmaceutical companies are refusing to allow their drugs to be used in executions.

More recently, was the botched execution of Oklahoma prisoner, Clayton Lockett.

What’s interesting is that in Oklahoma, the drug cocktail was kept “secret” by law and therefore was prohibitive in allowing the prisoner’s lawyer to file a cruel and unusual claim because they didn’t actually know what they were using. Even though the law was deemed unconstitutional, Clayton only had one month left to live and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals refused to stay the execution.

For the first time, the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a stay but got so much political pressure that it reversed itself two days later.

It’s hard to piece together exactly what went wrong, but in this CNN account, the IV “blew” which means the vein ruptured and the medication likely went into the tissue versus staying in the venous system which likely delayed the onset of the medication. Reports state death ensued approx 45 minutes after the first drug was given.

They stopped the process but the prisoner succumbed to a heart attack. In my medical opinion, this was caused by the potassium injection.

What is complicating death by lethal injection is the “preferred” drugs for sedation cannot be used due to a mandate by EU pharmaceutical companies so alternatives for the sedative drug are trying to be found.

In the Oklahoma situation– it says the drugs are administered simultaneously by three different executioners. From a medical standpoint– this probably isn’t wise. A step-fold process would be better. If given one at a time, there would be less pressure on the line and less chance the vein would blow and you could ensure the sedative worked prior to administering the subsequent drugs making for a more “humane” execution.

Because of the problems now with lethal injection, a Utah State Representative is proposing the return of the firing squad

What do you think of the death penalty? Which method do you think is most “humane”?

European Drug Companies Halt Use of Drugs for Lethal Injection

 As a medical provider, I’ve seen drugs used on-label (approved by the FDA) and off-label (uses not approved by the FDA.) I’ve seen people misuse their prescribed medications and I’ve seen illegal drug use.

What’s interesting is that European drug companies are now using a moral standard for supplying drugs to the US— and that is they don’t want them used in executions.

First of all, what are the drugs used in an execution?

1. An anesthetic. This puts the prisoner to sleep.
2. A paralyzing agent. Which stops muscles from working including the muscles of respiration.
2. Potassium Chloride. Which stops the heart from beathing.

The issue with European drug companies was using their drugs to anesthetize prisoners for execution and they began prohibiting the sale of these drugs to prisons or to distribution companies that would then sell them to prisons.

This issue became more intense last fall when the company that manufactures Propofol (which has been blamed for Michael Jackson’s death) refused all US sale when they found out it was going to be used in an execution. However, Propofol is widely used in hospitals as sedation for shorter procedures. Its effects wear off quickly which allow patients to wake up sooner from their procedure and subsequently, go home sooner as well.

This ended up not happening to the point where it affected patient care but the EU pharmaceutical companies stand firm in not allowing their drugs to be used for executions.

What about you? Do you think a company should be allowed to use their moral standard when it comes to their product?