Saturday 22 January 2011

Ohio company supplies state with lethal drugs

Texas, which runs the nation's busiest prison death chamber, buys the three lethal drugs it uses to execute its condemned convicts from an Ohio pharmaceutical supplier, officials disclosed Thursday.
The revelation came after state prison officials had for months fought the release of the information, in unsuccessful arguments to Attorney General Greg Abbott and to a Travis County state district judge.
At several points, prison officials had argued that the safety of prison employees and the employees of the supplier might be jeopardized if the supplier's name was made public. Additionally, they insisted that the supplier might stop shipping the drugs to Texas, and executions could be stopped.
Michelle Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said all three drugs are purchased from Besse Medical, a supplier based in West Chester, Ohio .
She said she did not have additional information about the supplier or whether the disclosure could affect future deliveries of the drugs.
She said an Austin judge ordered the agency on Jan. 11 to reveal the name of the supplier as part of a court challenge filed by condemned killer Cleve Foster. He was scheduled to die Jan. 11, but the U.S. Supreme Court delayed his execution just before it was to take place. The high court rejected Foster's latest appeal Tuesday.
Officials at Besse and Pennsylvania-based AmerisourceBergen Corp., its corporate owner, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Amid a national shortage of a key execution drug, sodium thiopental, speculation has swirled for months about how states would continue their executions after their current supplies ran out. Several executions have been delayed or canceled in other states because of the short supply.
Abbott had ordered prison officials to make public some information about the lethal injection drugs after the American-Statesman and other groups requested records about the inventories and suppliers of lethal injection drugs.
In response, Texas prison officials announced last fall that they had enough doses to execute 39 prisoners, but that all doses of the sodium thiopental expire in March.

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