Court Orders Missouri to Name Supplier of Lethal Injection Drugs

On Sept. 2, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Missouri Department of Corrections must provide the source of pentobarbital, the lethal injection drug used in its executions.

In their decision, the court ruled that since Missouri’s lethal drug suppliers are selling to a public agency, they cannot expect their sales to be kept a secret from the public.  The appeals court also noted that the state’s fears about how the supplier would react if its identity is made public was only speculation and hearsay. The court did indicate that Missouri has alternate ways to protect itself if the information is made public.

Within minutes of the ruling, a federal judge ordered the Missouri Department of Corrections, which has resisted revealing the identity of its lethal drugs, to reveal its source. However, the Missouri attorney general’s office then asked that the order be delayed until the matter could be reviewed by the full 8th Circuit Court.  Stay tuned as this issue continues to be litigated in the courts.

Missouri has been using pentobarbital as its execution drug since 2013.  Since then, Missouri has carried out 19 executions.  No executions are scheduled at this time.