AUSTIN, Tex. — Many states may have to find another way to execute prisoners after the nation’s largest pharmacist group called on members to stop selling drugs for lethal injection.
Texas is scheduled to execute four men next month, but only after officials scrambled to find the lethal injection drug, pentobarbital.
It may be harder now that the American Pharmacists Association has become the latest group to adopt a policy which “discourages pharmacist participation in executions.”
Joe Da Silva is with the association’s Texas chapter.
“We feel that the pharmacists should have the right to decide based on their ethics, their religious positions as to what role they should play in dispensing any medication,” said Joe Da Silva is with the association’s Texas chapter.
Pharmacists also became alarmed after Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona experimented with new drug combinations made on special order by compounding pharmacies, which led to prolonged and apparently painful executions.
“I think the botched executions have been very problematic and some of that is because of the shortage of the chemicals that are being used for lethal injection,” said Da Silva.
There is a shortage of the drugs because death penalty opponents have pressured drug makers to stop selling them and the European Union has banned the export of certain drugs used in executions.
Victims’ relatives like Jeannie Brown who lost two family members say even botched executions are nothing compared to what they’ve gone through.
“Everyone is more worried about did he suffer,” said Brown. “Who really suffered was my dad and my sister when they were killed.”
Lethal injection is used in 32 states, but if the drugs are not available they will resort to other methods. Tennessee has joined seven other states that would use the electric chair. Four states would use the gas chamber.
And Utah’s governor signed a law last week bringing back the firing squad.
So far Texas has not revealed which pharmacy provided the latest batch of lethal injection drugs. Officials here are appealing a judge’s order to make that information public.