Friday, 16 November, 2018

Execution blocked after company objects to use of its drug

Death row inmate Scott Dozier appears before Judge Jennifer Togliatti during a hearing about his execution at the Regional Justice Center on Monday Sept. 11 2017 in downtown Las Vegas. Richard Execution blocked after company objects to use of its drug
Patty Aguilar | 12 July, 2018, 05:39

The first Nevada execution to use the synthetic opioid fentanyl could be stalled thanks to a lawsuit from a pharmaceutical company.

This undated Nevada Department of Corrections photo shows death row inmate Scott Raymond Dozier, who was convicted in 2007 of robbing, killing and dismembering a 22-year-old man in Las Vegas, and was convicted in Arizona in 2005 of another murder and dismemberment near Phoenix.

A third company, Pfizer, a year ago demanded Nevada return the third drug intended for use in the execution, the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Dozier, a twice-convicted killer who attempted suicide in the past, repeated his desire to die during a brief telephone interview Sunday with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Clark County District Court spokeswoman Mary Ann Price said the company would also need to file with Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez a request for a court order to halt the proceeding.

Brooke Santina, public information officer for the Nevada Department of Corrections, told CNN that it has been advised not to comment on the lawsuit. Today's execution would be the first time in 12 years that Nevada is carrying out the death penalty.

Alvogen also claims the prison obtained its midazolam illegally, "despite a clear and unambiguous prior warning" from the company that they could not acquire it from company or a third party.

The New Jersey-based drug company Alvogen said it does not want its drugs used in "botched" executions, according to court documents.

"Midazolam is not approved for use in such an application", the document said, adding uses of midazolam in other states "have been extremely controversial and have led to widespread concern that prisoners have been exposed to cruel and unusual treatment".

He said Alvogen had sent a letter to state officials in April telling them it opposes the use of its products in executions, particularly midazolam.

Dozier is slated to die Wednesday, July 11, 2018, by a three-drug lethal injection combination never before tried in any state and has said repeatedly he wants his sentence carried out and he doesn't care if it's painful.

"While Alvogen takes no position on the death penalty itself, Alvogen's products were developed to save and improve patients' lives and their use in executions is fundamentally contrary to this objective", the company said in its complaint.

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In the past, states with the death penalty typically used a cocktail of drugs that included sodium thiopental for lethal injection.

"And contrary to the state's belief, the state is just as much bound to the law as is a private citizen", Todd Bice, the Attorney for Alvogen said.

However, the legal challenge filed by Alvogen is only the second of its kind in the USA, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Centre in Washington.

Assistant Solicitor General Jordan Smith, who represents the prison system, is expected to argue via video conference from Ely at Wednesday's hearing.

Alvogen's midazolam was substituted in May for Nevada's expired stock of diazepam, commonly known as Valium.

Even if, as has happened before with these experimental injections, the drug combination leaves him paralyzed yet still conscious, effectively suffocating him alive. He said drugs ordered by the state prison system are regularly shipped to Las Vegas. Under Nevada's new execution protocol, the inmate is next given fentanyl and then cisatracurium, one to slow his breathing, the other to stop it.

In court papers, Alvogen also cited the risk of a botched execution, citing instances in Alabama, Arizona and Oklahoma in the past few years in which inmates were left gasping or snorting, appeared to regain consciousness or took an unusually long time to die.

"You got something that's killing hundreds of people a day across the United States, and you got prisons who can't get death penalty drugs, so they're turning to the drug that's killing hundreds of people across the United States", he said. A witness there testified that Dozier used a sledgehammer to break Greene's limbs so the corpse would fit in a plastic tote that Dozier used to transport methamphetamine, equipment and chemicals.

Mr Miller had come to Nevada to buy ingredients to make meth.

He did, however, let federal public defenders review and challenge the execution protocol drawn up a year ago by state medical and prison officials.

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