This Chicago Criminal attorney has posted here, here, and here about the death penalty. She never thought she would see drug expiration as the reason given for not executing an individual.
With the clock ticking and uncertainties — both legal and pharmaceutical — hovering, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered a temporary last-minute reprieve on Monday in what would be California’s first execution in more than four years.
The postponement came after a whirlwind day in which Mr. Brown’s fortunes seemed to rise and fall with each passing hour. Earlier Monday, Mr. Brown had been denied a stay from a state judge, Verna A. Adams, in Marin County, where San Quentin State Prison is located.
Shortly after that denial state officials also made a surprise announcement that the execution would be the last in the state until the one of the drugs proposed for his execution — sodium thiopental, a barbiturate — could be restocked by the state’s Department.
Moreover, Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the department, said its supply of sodium thiopental was good only until Friday. That expiration date is now just hours after Mr. Brown’s planned execution on Thursday.
Ms. Thornton said her department was continuing with preparations for Mr. Brown’s execution and had enough sodium thiopental to stop Mr. Brown’s heart. She added that the state was “actively seeking supplies of the drug for future executions.”
How exactly sodium thiopental became scarce is unclear. The Food and Drug Administration reported shortages in March, citing production issues with Hospira, an Illinois-based company that is the sole American manufacturer.
A company spokesman, Dan Rosenberg, said that the drug was unavailable because of a lack of supply of an active pharmaceutical ingredient and that Hospira was working to get the drug back on the market by early next year. But Mr. Rosenberg also expressed displeasure that the drug — meant to be used as an anesthetic — had found its way into death chambers.
“Hospira manufactures this product because it improves or saves lives, and the company markets it solely for use as indicated on the product labeling,” Mr. Rosenberg said in a statement. “The drug is not indicated for capital punishment, and Hospira does not support its use in this procedure.”
He added that the company had made that opinion clear to corrections departments nationwide.
Who knew Big Pharma had no desire to be a part of the government’s death panels!