"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

U.S.: Pharmacists closer to cutting off access to death penalty drugs

March 24, 2015: The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP), the leading trade group for compound pharmacists, is urging its members to stop working with drugs that are used to carry out executions against American prisoners by way of lethal injection, according to a new report. 

It represents the first official stance the IACP has ever taken on death penalty issues. 

The group, which represents about 3,700 pharmacists across the country who compound drugs, is mainly worried about potential legal repercussions in this area. 

Since a handful of drug makers have started taking steps to prohibit their products from being used in executions, compounding pharmacists might be liable if they repackage those drugs for the states that want to execute inmates. 

David Miller, the chief executive for IACP, told the Wall Street Journal that “we have concerns about what may occur” if compound pharmacists continue to manufacture death penalty drugs. In addition to potential legal issues, Miller is worried that pharmacists may face harassment if their identities are disclosed. The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists is an international organization based in Texas. And later this week, in a move that could have further repercussions for capital punishment, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) will meet to discuss a similar policy. 

If the APhA decides to follow in the IACP’s footsteps and discourage its members from dispensing lethal drugs, that decision will affect about 62,000 professionals across the country who work in traditional pharmacists rather than in compounding facilities. 

Most medical groups — including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Board of Anesthesiology, and the American Nurses Association — already prohibit their members from assisting in executions. But there’s nothing in the American Pharmacists Association’s code of ethics that explicitly prevents pharmacists from dispensing death penalty drugs. 

Right now, pharmacists are allowed to dispense lethal medication for use in executions if a “licensed doctor writes a legitimate prescription.” 

It’s an unusual loophole in the medical field that has caught the attention of human rights activists. 

Last spring, several human rights and anti-death penalty groups sent a letter to the APhA pressuring the group to forbid their members from assisting in the execution of inmates. 

“Participation in executions undermines the position of trust that pharmacists enjoy in this nation,” the letter said.

Sources: thinkprogress.org, Hands Off Cain, March 24, 2015

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