In an attempt to make executions more humane, Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections (“DOC”) consulted a physician to overhaul the state’s execution protocol. This consultation resulted in the implementation of the modern three-drug lethal injection cocktail. However, recent challenges to lethal injection protocols tell a different story. European-based drug companies, wary of having their products used in executions, have begun refusing to sell drugs to state DOCs. This refusal is mostly with respect to the first drug in the three-drug cocktail, the anesthetic. This refusal has led to drug shortages and improvisation that some doctors say will cause unnecessary pain and suffering during executions. In addition, shortages have increased the cost of these drugs. One solution to manufacturer-driven shortages is to open a pharmacy in every prison where executions are performed. This pharmacy could compound its own anesthetic. This procedure would ensure DOCs have the most appropriate drugs on hand, making executions both more humane and less costly.
Better the Devil You Know: An Examination of Manufacturer Driven Lethal Injection Drug Shortages,
Bus. Entrepreneurship & Tax L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/betr/vol2/iss2/8