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

Friday, June 19, 2015

Lethal drugs ordered by Nebraska officials to carry out executions have not yet shipped from India

On the same day Nebraska expected to get lethal injection drugs from India, a state prison official said Thursday that the shipment had not yet been sent.

A new delivery date for the disputed lethal drugs has yet to be determined, said James Foster, spokesman for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

Meanwhile, the Indian pharmaceutical broker has not cashed more than $50,000 in checks Nebraska sent to buy two lethal injection drugs, one of which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to say can't be legally imported.

"The department has not canceled their order and has not requested a refund," Taylor Gage, spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts, said late Thursday in an email.

He said the department would announce when the drugs have arrived.

Ricketts announced May 14 that the state had bought 2 of the 3 drugs needed to carry out a lethal injection. The purchase was necessary because the two drugs had expired.

Despite the attempt to restore the means to carry out an execution, state lawmakers voted May 27 to override the governor's veto of a death penalty repeal bill. The governor and Attorney General Doug Peterson have argued that the repeal does not apply to the 10 men on death row, and so they remain committed to obtaining the lethal drugs.

Prison officials had anticipated that the sodium thiopental would reach Omaha on Thursday via Federal Express, but that was before FDA officials alerted Corrections Director Scott Frakes that the drugs could not be imported.

In a May 28 letter to Frakes, the FDA's Domenic Veneziano said he had notified Nebraska prison officials in 2012 that a federal judge had ordered the FDA to block shipments of foreign-manufactured sodium thiopental. The letter to Frakes - a former Washington prison executive appointed by Ricketts to run Nebraska's prisons earlier this year - included the federal court orders pertaining to sodium thiopental.

"Please note, there is no FDA-approved application for sodium thiopental, and it is illegal to import an unapproved new drug into the United States," Veneziano's letter stated.

On May 29, in response to questions from The World-Herald, the FDA said the drug would be refused admission into the U.S. On the same day, Frakes sent an email to the Indian broker, asking for a call back to discuss the FDA's stance.

"Will give you a call tomorrow, as I don't have coverage here," replied Chris Harris, the drug broker.

Corrections spokesman James Foster said Thursday that Frakes and Harris later discussed the FDA matter over the phone, but Foster declined to describe the conversation or what resulted from it.

An email message sent to Harris by The World-Herald was not immediately returned Thursday.

In the meantime, Nebraska will continue to attempt to get the drugs using an importer's license issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Foster said prison officials have been in talks with the DEA.

A spokeswoman for the DEA has said the agency would not allow a foreign drug to come into the country unless it was approved by the FDA.

Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenberg said Thursday that it would be possible to cancel payment on the 2 checks sent to the broker.

Source: omaha.com, June 18, 2015

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