News

Hanged if I know

In Virginia, the state legislature has accepted a plan by the Governor, Terry McAuliffe, to recruit pharmacies that will secretly supply the state with drugs to be used in executions.

The state will now be able to order execution drugs from pharmacies, and the identity of the pharmacy will be kept a closely guarded secret.

Caroline D. Juran, executive director of the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, had wondered whether such a plan might violate laws requiring that drugs be dispensed only with a valid prescription and only for medicinal or therapeutic purposes. She also questioned whether the secrecy provisions could prevent authorities from investigating a pharmacy in the event of a botched execution. There have been plenty of instances of executions that have indeed been horrible, with the executed person in clear agony before they die.

The Attorney General, Mark Herring, had no legal qualms about this.

Herring didn’t seem too bothered about this. The Food and Drug Administration – the Federal authority that oversees pharmaceuticals in the US – “has concluded that it lacks clear regulatory authority over the use of drugs for purposes of conducting executions, and courts will likely be constrained to defer to the FDA’s reasonable construction.”

Picture source: Flickr