The giant drugs manufacturer Pfizer received a lot of praise for its announcement that it would ban the use of its products in executions in the US.
The US states that use lethal injections to execute convicted murderers are now finding it difficult to obtain the necessary drugs – all the big pharma companies find the bad publicity from numerous botched executions too much to stomach.
That doesn’t mean that sourcing the drugs has become impossible however. Death penalty states now rely on anonymous compounding pharmacies, who are governed by very loose and highly discretionary regulations. Other states have broken federal law by importing illicit drugs from overseas, far from the prying eyes of the Food and Drug Administration, the federal authority.
Many states have banned the naming of companies and the drugs they supply, and any information surrounding the sourcing and names of drugs used in executions.
The official rationale for the policy is that secrecy is the only guarantee of safety for those companies still willing to supply drugs for executions.
Lethal injection secrecy statutes exist in a dozen states today, with more pending elsewhere.
The real purpose of such laws is to block any prying by journalists into how the states conduct their executions, many of which have already been botched, with the executed person suffering agonies before death.
Many of the executed have certainly done despicable deeds; but federal law bans “cruel and unusual death” in executions.
As the public and legal sourcing of drugs has dried up, some states have passed laws to bring back firing squads and electric chairs; those that still adhere to lethal injections are using…who knows what?
Picture source: Flickr