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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Dutch pharma firm reprimanded for drug used in U.S. executions

The Dutch branch of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reprimanded pharmaceutical company Mylan for doing to little to prevent their drugs being used in executions in the United States, the Volkskrant reports.

The OECD reprimanded Mylan at the insistence of death penalty lawyer Bart Staperd.

The pharmaceutical company now has to update its sales policy and make sure that their products are not used in executions. 

Mylan is originally an American company, but is established in the Netherlands for tax reasons. It therefore has to comply with Dutch human rights laws and provisions.

The drug involved is muscle relaxant rocuronium bromide. In the United States it is used as part of the cocktail given to death penalty prisoners at their execution.

Mylan initially defended itself by claiming that they do not always have control over the distribution of the drug. They sell rocuronium bromide wholesale to American hospitals, to be used for anesthesia in medical treatments. It is not directly supplied to prisons.

The OECD does not find that excuse acceptable, and instructed Mylan to better monitor the trade of the drug, even after they sold it. The company now promised to put more effort into monitoring where the drug ends up.

Source: nltimes.nl, April 12, 2016

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