Washington DC

Death Row Inmates Win Order Banning Unapproved Anesthesia

source : http://www.sfgate.com

March 27 (Bloomberg) — Twenty-one death row inmates won an order barring use of sodium thiopental, an imported drug given as anesthesia prior to administration of lethal injections.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington today ruled that the federal Food and Drug Administration violated its own rules by allowing entry of the drug into the country without first ensuring its efficacy.

“Prisoners on death row have an unnecessary risk that they will not be anesthetized properly prior to execution,” Leon wrote in a 22-page ruling, adding that the agency had created a “slippery slope” for entry of other unapproved drugs.

In an accompanying two-page order, the judge banned the import of thiopental, calling it a misbranded and unapproved drug, and directed Arizona, California, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee and any others with stocks of the barbiturate to send them to the FDA.

Attorneys for the inmates had argued that use of the drug during execution could lead to so-called anesthesia awareness, in which they may experience suffocation, pain and cardiac arrest.

The shipments of thiopental entering the U.S. originated from an Austrian facility owned by Sandoz International GmbH, a German company, according to the complaint. The drug was shipped to the U.S. from a London wholesaler, Dream Pharma Ltd., the inmates said.

Dream Pharma bought the drug from a unit of Archimedes Pharma Ltd., a closely held company based in Reading, U.K., according to the complaint.

Imported Drug

The FDA countered that release of the imported drug within the U.S. was an act of enforcement discretion, and that “reviewing substances imported or used for the purpose of state-authorized lethal injection clearly falls outside of FDA’s public health role,” according to Leon’s ruling.

The judge heard arguments from both sides on Feb. 9.

Leon said there was no dispute that the FDA hadn’t reviewed foreign or domestic thiopental for safety and effectiveness. Because it was unapproved, the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act required the agency to bar its import, he said.

Shelly Burgess, a spokeswoman for the FDA, said she couldn’t immediately comment on the judge’s decision.

The case is Beaty v. Food and Drug Administration, 11-cv- 289, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington).

read  momerandum opinion  : click here

read order by Judge Richard J. Leon : click here 

Death Penalty Methods, State by State

The death penalty laws in each state and the District of Columbia. Six states with the death penalty have not had an execution since 1976: Connecticut, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, NewYork and South Dakota.
ALABAMA – Lethal injection unless inmate requests electrocution
ALASKA – No death penalty
ARIZONA – Lethal injection for those sentenced after Nov. 15, 1992; others may select injection or lethal gas.
ARKANSAS – Lethal injection for those whose offense occurred after July 4, 1983; others may select injection or electrocution.
CALIFORNIA – Lethal injection unless inmate requests gas.

COLORADO – Lethal injection.

CONNECTICUT – Lethal injection.

DELAWARE – Lethal injection.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA – No death penalty.

FLORIDA – Inmate may select lethal injection or electrocution.

GEORGIA – Lethal injection.

HAWAII – No death penalty.

IDAHO – Firing squad if lethal injection is”impractical.”

ILLINOIS – Lethal injection; electrocution authorized if injection is ever held to be unconstitutional.

INDIANA – Lethal injection.

IOWA – No death penalty.

KANSAS – Lethal injection.

KENTUCKY – Lethal injection for those convicted after March 31, 1998; others may select lethal injection or electrocution.

LOUISIANA – Lethal injection.

MAINE – No death penalty.

MARYLAND – Lethal injection for those whose offense occurred on or after March 25, 1994; others may select injection or gas.

MASSACHUSETTS – No death penalty.

MICHIGAN – No death penalty.

MINNESOTA – No death penalty.

MISSISSIPPI – Lethal injection.

MISSOURI – Lethal injection or lethal gas; statute leaves unclear whether decision to be made by inmate or director of state Department of Corrections.

MONTANA – Lethal injection.

NEBRASKA – Electrocution.

NEVADA – Lethal injection.

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Hanging only if lethal injection cannot be given.

NEW JERSEY – Lethal injection.

NEW MEXICO – Lethal injection.

NEW YORK – Lethal injection.

NORTH CAROLINA – Lethal injection.

NORTH DAKOTA – No death penalty.

OHIO – Lethal injection.

OKLAHOMA – Electrocution if lethal injection is ever held to beunconstitutional; firing squad if both injection and electrocution are
held unconstitutional.

OREGON – Lethal injection.

PENNSYLVANIA – Lethal injection.

RHODE ISLAND – No death penalty.

SOUTH CAROLINA – Inmate may select lethal injection or electrocution.

SOUTH DAKOTA – Lethal injection.

TENNESSEE – Lethal injection for those sentenced after Jan. 1, 1999; others may select electric chair or injection.

TEXAS – Lethal injection.

UTAH – Lethal injection; firing squad available to inmates who chose it prior to passage of legislation this year banning the

VERMONT – No death penalty.

VIRGINIA – Inmate may select lethal injection or

WASHINGTON – Lethal injection unless inmate requests

WEST VIRGINIA – No death penalty.

WISCONSIN – No death penalty.

WYOMING – Lethal gas if lethal injection is ever held to be unconstitutional.