Missouri prepares another execution amid lethal cocktail shortage

Corrections officials say they will use lethal drug provided by new supplier for fourth execution in as many months

By Natasha Lennard

Published February 25, 2014 6:22PM (EST)


Despite the use of previously untested lethal cocktails reportedly causing two torturous deaths this year, Missouri is preparing to carry out its fourth execution in as many months using a drug provided by a new supplier.

Because of European sanctions over the sale of pentobarbital (the anesthetic typically used in lethal injections), U.S. death penalty states have been relying on drugs produced in unregulated compounding pharmacies. Michael Taylor is scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, but Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is weighing a clemency request.

According to reports, the convicted killer's attorneys are questioning the use of the untested drug -- a barbarous addition to an already vile practice. Earlier this year, Missouri executed Herbert Smulls, while the inmate's lawyers were still waiting for information on the new drug that would be used to kill him. "Compounded drugs are created by pharmacies that are not stringently regulated, and there is no way to ensure what is in the needle unless transparency is practiced regarding the sourcing and testing of drugs," Smulls' attorneys commented.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Compounding Pharmacy Death Penalty Lethal Cocktail Lethal Injection Michael Taylor Missouri Pentobarbital