Despite being sued by a pharmaceutical company for alleged unauthorized use, the state of Nebraska was successful in executing a prisoner on death row using the addictive drug fentanyl, according to NPR News. Robert Dunham, head of the Death Penalty Information Center, believed the use of fentanyl—the first execution in the country using the chemical—was unusual.
“It’s somewhat ironic that at the same time the Justice Department and states are talking about how dangerous fentanyl is and how it’s created a national public health emergency that states are now turning to it as a supposedly safe way of killing prisoners,” Dunham said told NPR. Convicted of murder in 1980, Carey Dean Moore was sentenced to death and did not put up a legal fight against being injected with a lethal dose of the deadly opiate.
But Fresenius Kabi, a German pharmaceutical company, challenged Moore’s execution in federal court according to NPR News.
Fresenius Kabi are the makers of potassium chloride and cisatracurium besylate, two of the four drugs used in the state’s execution cocktail, and filed a suit requesting that a temporary restraining order be granted on the grounds that the state of Nebraska may have purchased those drugs illegally.
The company commented that its drugs are only sold by authorized dealers who “contractually agreed to particular constraints, such as excluding sale to federal or state incarceration facilities.”
Nebraska has been vocal about the debate over the use of the two drugs in Moore’s execution. The state said after contacting a number of potential suppliers and six different states, the drug was supplied by a licensed pharmacy in the United States. Nebraska authorities claim that the drug was not obtained by fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
Judge Richard Kopf denied the restraining order. He stated the claim that the drugs’ use would cause the company “irreparable injury” was “far too speculative,” allowing the state of Nebraska to complete the execution.
NET News reported that there have also been concerns by death-penalty abolitionists about the drug cisatracurium besylate, which causes paralysis.
“If in tortuous pain the paralysis would make the subject unable to respond,” NET News summarized.
Moore was given the first drug at 10:24 a.m. and pronounced dead by 10:47 a.m., according to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.
The Associated Press reported that while on the gurney, Moore turned his head and mouthed several words to his family, including “I love you.”
His execution was under heavy scrutiny by the ACLU Nebraska chapter.
“This execution of Carey Dean Moore does not comport with Nebraska’s proud tradition of open government,” director Danielle Conrad said to NPR. She also said it stood as the most dark chapter in Nebraska’s troubled history with the death penalty. The state had not executed an inmate since 1997.
PPI’s “Correctional Control: Incarceration and Supervision by State” is the first report to aggregate data on all types of correctional control nationwide.