Death penalty states in the US are stockpiling medicines for lethal injections that could save the lives of hundreds of coronavirus patients were they released for medical use.
A group of prominent medical practitioners and experts has issued an appeal to capital punishment states to release their stocks of essential sedatives and paralytics that they hoard for executions. The drugs are among the most sought after in hospital intensive care units around the country where shortages of the key medicines are putting lives of Covid-19 patients at risk.
…. It is not known how many states are stockpiling lethal injection drugs, though 19 out of 28 death penalty states in the US have execution protocols that involve the use of sedatives and paralytics. These include midazolam, vecuronium bromide, rocuronium bromide and fentanyl, which are all currently listed by pharmacy organizations as being in short supply in hospitals.
Arkansas is one of the states that use these drugs — midazolam as a sedative; vecuronium bromide to stop lungs, and potassium chlorate to stop the heart. Arkansas’s supply expired last year and earlier this year the Associated Press reported that, with no executions currently scheduled, Arkansas wasn’t seeking new supplies. A law that took effect last year imposed more secrecy on the drugs used so that sources couldn’t be traced.
I’ve asked the Corrections Department if they’d heard from or responded to this request.
UPDATE: The Arkansas Department of Corrections says it currently has no unexpired execution drugs.