Some states have turned to the black market to obtain scarce lethal injection drugs that have caused botched executions, according to www.Reason.com.
According to the report by C.J. Ciaramella, investigative journalists found that, “these states have turned to untraceable cash transactions, unregulated pharmacies, and overseas scammers to buy drugs to fill the veins of condemned inmates.”
Some experimental combinations have even resulted in botched executions.
Further complicating the matter, Virginia and 14 other states have passed secrecy laws that may hide the identities of pharmacies that provide death penalty drugs.
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“Officials argue such secrecy keeps the flow of necessary drugs unimpeded—but it also leaves death row inmates, their lawyers, the press, and the public in the dark about how governments are wielding the gravest of their powers,” Ciaramella reported.
Some other findings:
In an attempt to avoid leaving a paper trail, an Oklahoma state official drove across state lines and purchased execution drugs from a pharmacy using petty cash.
Despite a U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban on importing sodium thiopental, the active ingredient in executions, three states paid an India company, Harris Pharma, run by a man with no pharmaceutical background, to send the drugs to them.
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Nebraska ordered $54,000 worth of the drug from Harris—enough to perform 300 executions. The FDA confiscated the shipment, leaving Nebraskan taxpayers on the hook.
Due to the difficulty of obtaining Midazolam and sodium thiopental. Nebraska is looking into using a never-before-tried mix of four drugs: diazepam (Valium), potassium chloride, cisatracurium besylate (a paralytic, banned for animal euthanasia) and fentanyl citrate, the super-strong opiate responsible for a wave of overdoses in the U.S.