compounding pharmacy

Mississippi death row inmate drops lawsuit after info provided on execution drug


march 20, 2014

JACKSON, Mississippi — The Mississippi Department of Corrections and attorneys for a death row inmate have agreed to dismiss a lawsuit over release of information on execution drugs and suppliers.

The decision to dismiss was made after the attorney general’s office and the agency provided information sought about the drugs, attorneys for Michelle Byrom said in a statement.

Special Assistant Attorney General Paul Barnes said in court documents filed this week that the Corrections Department erred in not providing the information sought by Byrom and has now done so.

Byrom and her attorneys had asked Hinds County Chancery Judge William Singletary to hold the agency in violation of Mississippi’s public records law for failing to provide information on whether the drugs are safe and reliable or whether they may have been tainted, expired, counterfeited or compromised in some way.

Barnes said the Corrections Department has now provided essentially everything requested except for the drugmaker’s identity. Corrections officials had no immediate comment.

Byrom was sentenced to death in 2000 in Tishomingo County in the shooting death of her husband, Edward “Eddie” Byrom Sr., at their home in Iuka.

Attorney General Jim Hood has asked the state Supreme Court to set a March 27 execution date for Byrom. Byrom’s lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to allow her to continue her appeals. The court has not yet ruled on either motion.

Vanessa Carroll, an attorney with the New Orleans office of the MacArthur Justice Center, said the center has determined the Corrections Department is buying the lethal injection drugs from a compounding pharmacy in the state and that the center has determined the identity of the pharmacy.

The Corrections Department has said it uses pentobarbital, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride in executions.

Carroll said in Thursday’s news release that the Corrections Department’s use of a compounding pharmacy raises concerns.

“We have no assurance that this compounded pentobarbital is sufficiently potent and effective. This is an enormous concern because pentobarbital is the first drug administered during a lethal injection, and if it fails to work properly, the prisoner will be suffocated to death by the paralytic agent that is given next, and may be conscious during the excruciating pain caused by the third drug, which causes death by cardiac arrest,” said Carroll.

Compounding pharmacies make customized drugs not scrutinized by the Federal Drug Administration. It’s hard to tell exactly how many states have used or are planning to use compounding pharmacies for execution drugs because states frequently resist disclosing the source of the drugs.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, six states have either used or announced an intention to use compounding pharmacies to obtain the drugs for lethal injection.

South Dakota carried out 2 executions in 2012 using drugs from compounders. Georgia obtained drugs from an unnamed compounding pharmacy for the planned execution of Warren Hill in 2013, but the execution was stayed. Pennsylvania obtained drugs from a compounder, but has not used them. Colorado sent out inquiries to compounding pharmacies for lethal injection drugs, but all executions are on hold. Missouri used pentobarbital from a compounding pharmacy in the 2013 execution of Joseph Franklin.

Texas and Ohio announced plans to obtain drugs from compounding pharmacies in October 2013. Documents released in January show that Louisiana had contacted a compounding pharmacy regarding execution drugs, but it is unclear whether the drugs were obtained there.

Washington D.C.-based DPIC is a nonprofit organization that tracks information on issues concerning capital punishment.

MISSOURI – EXECUTION MICHAEL TAYLOR EXECUTED AT 12:10 AM


February 26, 2014

Michael Taylor has been executed by Missour using compounded pentobarbital

Final Meal:

Taylor did not use his right to request a specific last meal and was served potato soup and a sandwich.

Missouri has gone ahead with executing a death-row prisoner using a drug from an unspecified source. The lethal injection of pentobarbital used to kill Michael Taylor, 47, who raped and murdered a teenage girl in 1989, was presumed to have been bought by the state from a compounding pharmacy – a supply arrangement that sparked legal challenges over the potential cruelty of using an unregulated drug.

In a brief phone conversation with The Kansas City Star just hours before the execution, Taylor said he had written a letter to Ann’s parents and that a prison official assured him it would be offered to them. In the letter, Taylor said, he expressed “my sincerest apology and heartfelt remorse.”

“I hope that they’ll accept it,” Taylor said of the letter.

Taylor offered no final statement. He mouthed silent words to his parents, two clergymen and two other relatives who witnessed his death. As the process began he took two deep breaths before closing his eyes for the last time.

Taylor was pronounced dead shortly after midnight. Federal courts and the governor had refused last-minute appeals from his attorneys, who argued that execution drugs purchased from a compounding pharmacy could have caused Taylor inhuman pain and suffering.

Taylor’s victim, 15-year-old Ann Harrison, was in her driveway holding her school books, flute and purse when she was abducted by Taylor and Roderick Nunley. The men pulled her into their stolen car, took her to a home, then raped and fatally stabbed the girl as she pleaded for her life.

Nunley also was sentenced to death and is awaiting execution.

In their appeal Taylor’s attorneys questioned Missouri’s use of an unnamed compounding pharmacy to provide pentobarbital. They also cited concerns about the state executing inmates before appeals were complete and argued that Taylor’s original trial attorney was so overworked that she encouraged him to plead guilty.

The Oklahoma-based compounding pharmacy Apothecary Shoppe agreed last week that it would not supply the pentobarbital for Taylor’s execution, which left Missouri to find a new supplier. The attorney general, Chris Koster, later disclosed that a new provider had been found but refused to name the pharmacy, citing the state’s execution protocol that allows for the manufacturer to remain anonymous.

Taylor’s attorneys argued use of the drug from an unspecified source could cause an inmate pain and suffering because no one could check if the maker was legitimate and had a record of producing safe drugs.

The official makers of pentobarbital refuse to sell it for executions.

AUDIO: Bernard interview 7:40
AUDIO: Post-execution news conference 8:23