Investigation in Missouri’s Execution Drug Raises Ethical Concerns

An investigation by St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon has revealed that Missouri is getting its execution drug from a compounding pharmacy in Oklahoma and that it isn’t licensed in Missouri.

In November the state of Missouri switched its execution drug from propofol to pentobarbital after the European Union threatened to stop shipment of the anesthetic propofol to the U.S. if it was used in executions.

Instead of coming from a manufacturer, the pentobarbital now used in executions was to be mixed by a compounding pharmacy. The identity of the compounding pharmacy was to be kept secret under a state privacy law.

The fact that Missouri is using a compounding pharmacy not licensed by the state raises ethical concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the drugs. Because the pharmacy is not licensed, there is no oversight by the Missouri Board of Pharmacy, which has found that about one out of every five drugs made by compounding pharmacies does not meet standards.

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Posted: January 3, 2014

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