Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Texas won't return execution drug requested by pharmacy

The Texas "compounding pharmacy" that recently provided pentobarbitol to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for use in executions has asked for the drug back because of the resulting media uproar. A prison spokesman said the agency is keeping the drug.

"It was my belief that this information would be kept on the "down low" and that it was unlikely that it would be discovered that my pharmacy provided these drugs," states the letter which was filed in court papers in a lawsuit challenging execution protocol. "Now that the information has been made public, I find myself in the middle of a firestorm that I was not advised of and did not bargain for. Had I known that this information would be made public, which the State implied it would not, I never would have agreed to provide the drugs to the TDCJ."

"I must demand that TDCJ immediately return the vials of compounded pentobarbital in exchange for a refund."

TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark issued a statement saying "The drugs were purchased legally by the agency. TDCJ has no intention of returning the pentobarbital."

"We were up-front with the vendor that the name of their company and the items purchased would be subject to disclosure through open records requests," he said.

The letter came to light through legal actions seeking to stop several executions. The filing on behalf of Texas death row inmate Michael Yowell, who sought more information about drugs provided through a compounding pharmacy instead of a manufacturer was denied by a federal judge Saturday. Judge Lynn Hughes was not sympathetic to Yowell's concerns that drugs from another compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts once cause a fatal fungal meningitis outbreak. "Pentobarbital  will kill  Yowell in  five to eighteen minutes and his consciousness will be diminished almost immediately; therefore, infections like  meningitis will not hurt him because they require weeks to  incubate," Judge Hughes wrote.

Yowell is scheduled for execution Oct. 9. The U.S.  Supreme Court also declined to intervene.  Yowell was sentenced to die after shooting his father, strangling his mother, and setting fire to their house. According to TDCJ, his disabled grandmother died several days later from injuries sustained after she was unable to escape the fire.


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