By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND Oct 28 Ohio said on Monday that it
does not have enough of the drug pentobarbital to carry out a
scheduled execution next month and will turn to a combination of
two drugs that a death-penalty expert said has never been used
before in the United States.
Ohio is the latest of several U.S. states looking to new
suppliers or new drugs for use in lethal injections. With major
pharmaceutical companies discouraging use of their products in
executions, these states have tapped lightly regulated
"compounding pharmacies" or turned to new drugs for executions.
The Danish manufacturer of pentobarbital, Lundbeck LLC
, has banned its sale to prisons or corrections
departments for the death penalty. The European Union, of which
Denmark is a member, is opposed to the death penalty and has put
pressure on U.S. states to stop the practice.
Ohio prison officials notified the state on Monday that they
do not have "sufficient quantity" of pentobarbital to carry out
the execution of Ronald Phillips on Nov. 14, according to
Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen
Smith. Phillips was convicted in 1993 of raping and murdering
his girlfriend's three-year-old daughter.
She said the state will turn to a combination of the drugs
midazolam and hydromorphone, for the November execution.
"No other state has used these two drugs in an execution,"
said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty
Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.
Florida used midazolam along with two other drugs in an
execution on Oct. 15, but not with hydromorphone, he said.
According to the Food and Drug Administration database of
drugs, Midazolam injections are marketed by a number of
companies including Fresenius Kabi USA, a unit of the German
drugmaker, and hydromorphone and midazolam are both marketed by
Hospira Inc and Akorn.
Fresenius Kabi suspended shipments of another drug,
propofol, to a U.S. distributor earlier this year after the
German company learned that some of it had been sold to the
state of Missouri for executions. Missouri eventually returned
Hospira started the scramble for alternative drugs in 2011
when it halted production of the only source in the U.S. of
sodium thiopental, then widely used in executions.
Ohio did not say where it purchased supplies of midazolam
and hydromorphone. A lawyer for Phillips declined to comment at
Ohio earlier this month published a new execution guideline
which allowed the state to seek pentobarbital from a compounding
pharmacy, a type of supplier that is not closely regulated by
the FDA. Compounding pharmacies still have supplies of
pentobarbital but run the risk of public criticism if they
supply the drug for executions and their name becomes public.
The name of a Houston company that had provided
pentobarbital to the state of Texas, The Woodlands Compounding
Pharmacy, was disclosed earlier this month, prompting a strong
complaint from the company that it had been promised secrecy by