a Tulsa-based compounding pharmacy, publicly denied it has broken any federal or state laws in reportedly supplying lethal injection drugs to corrections officials in multiple states.
"In recent weeks, there have been erroneous allegations in the media about The Apothecary Shoppe’s supposed non-compliance with Federal and State laws and regulations regarding the preparation and dispensing of certain sterile injection compounds. The Apothecary Shoppe expressly denies these allegations," pharmacy employee Sarah Lees said in an email sent to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune on Tuesday (Jan 28).
"The Apothecary Shoppe has, and continues to, comply with all Federal and State laws and regulations regarding the practice of pharmacy in the State of Oklahoma, and all States into which it dispenses medications."
Nowhere in the statement does Lees confirm to which states the Shoppe has supplied lethal injection drugs, nor does it note what drugs are produced there. Lees declined to comment further when contacted after the statement was released.
The Shoppe is the source for the pentobarbital that will be used to executive Missouri inmate Herbert Smulls, 56, according to a report by The Associated Press. A federal court denied Smull's request for a stay of execution Monday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He is scheduled to be put to death at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
D.J. Lees, an employee at the pharmacy's flagship store in Tulsa, was also in touchwith Louisiana corrections officials in September 2013, and had asked the state to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Louisiana is slated to put to death convicted killer Christopher Sepulvado on Feb. 5, its first scheduled execution since 2010.
However, neither the business nor any of its listed pharmacists can be found on a list of the out-of-state pharmacies licensed in Louisiana; this is also true of Missouri, but officials there said the pharmacy has not broken state law because they traveled to Oklahoma to pick up the needed drugs.
"Missouri officials came to Oklahoma to pick up the drug, so the pharmacy did not need to be licensed in that state," Missouri Pharmacy Board Chief Compliance Officer Cindy Hamilton said, according to TulsaWorld.com.
Missouri is slated to use the barbiturate pentobarbital, a drug usually used to treat seizures and euthanize animals, to execute Smulls on Tuesday. But Louisiana officials confirmed Monday (Jan. 27) they were unable to secure that drug for Sepulvado's scheduled execution next week.
Instead, they moved to amend the state's execution protocol to allow for the use of a two-drug cocktail of midazolam and hydromorphone, the same used the Jan. 16 execution of Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire, who appeared to cough and writhe in pain for 25 minutes before he died. His family is now suing, stating the drug was illegally produced and supplied to the state by the drug manufacturer Hospira Inc.
Louisiana corrections officials declined to comment on from where they planned to procure the two-drug recipe. Calls Monday and Tuesday to the state Pharmacy Board were not returned, and Apothecary Shoppe representatives would not confirm if they would be the source of the drugs used to execute Sepulvado.
Louisiana's execution protocol repeatedly notes the need to procure the drug 30 days in advance of any scheduled execution. But, Louisiana DOC Spokeswoman Pam Laborde said Sepulvado's Feb. 5 execution is slated to go ahead as scheduled, unless a court orders a stay. Sepulvado has asked a Baton Rouge based federal judge to delay the execution on the grounds his due process rights are being violated.
He and fellow death row inmate Jessie Hoffman are also in the midst of a ongoing legal battle with the state, seeking to force corrections officials to release more information on the execution policy. On Tuesday, the two file a motion requested a federal judge sanction the state for not supplying them with all the documents ordered released by Jan. 24.
Sepulvado was convicted of the 1992 murder of his 6-year-old stepson Wesley Allen Mercer in Mansfield. Court records show he beat the boy and stabbed him with a screwdriver, before dunking him in a scalding hot bath. Hoffman was sentenced to death for the 1996 kidnapping, rape and killing of Mary "Molly" Elliott, an advertising executive in St. Tammany Parish.
While Hoffman and Sepulvado are the only currently named plaintiffs in the case, three other inmates filed a request to become interveners in the case on Jan. 8. The defendants in the case, listed as DOC Secretary James LeBlanc, Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola Warden Burl Cain and Death Row Warden Angela Norwood, have requested an extension in filing their opposition to the motion due to inclement weather.
The three inmates are Bobby Hampton, Nathaniel Code and Kevan Brumfield. Hampton is on death row for the 1995 murder of liquor store employee Philip Russell Coleman Code in Shreveport. Brumfield was convicted of the 1993 slaying of Baton Rouge Police Corporal Betty Smothers.
Code, one of the defendants in another case seeking to force Angola to regulate its death row temperatures, is awaiting execution for the murder of five people.