COLUMBUS — Ohio’s most recent batches of lethal injection drugs were produced by a company that wants states to stop using them for capital punishment, records show.
Lake Forest, Ill.-based Hospira Inc. says it manufactures the drugs, the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone, to enhance and save the lives of patients it helps treat. The company says it objects to their use in capital punishment.
Hospira’s position adds to the state’s difficulties obtaining drugs to put condemned inmates to death at a time when several other states, including Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, face similar challenges obtaining drugs.
Other drug makers have prohibited the use of their drugs in executions, and states are running out of options.
Ohio purchased the Hospira-made drugs in 2012 and 2013 from San Francisco-based drug distributor McKesson, according to invoices and packing slips obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.
The two drugs are required by Ohio’s execution policy. Their first use, in the prolonged execution last month of a pregnant woman’s condemned killer, sparked calls for a moratorium on capital punishment.
Despite its opposition, Hospira also says there’s only so much it can do, given what it calls “the complex supply chain and the gray market” of U.S. drug distribution. It says it can’t guarantee a U.S. prison could not obtain restricted products outside of the normal distribution process.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction declined to comment.
Condemned inmate Dennis McGuire, 53, made gasp-like snoring sounds for several minutes during his 26-minute execution on Jan. 16, the longest since Ohio resumed putting inmates to death in 1999. He appeared unconscious while making those sounds.
His family has sued Ohio, alleging the use of the drugs led to a death that was cruel and inhuman. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is preparing a report on his execution. Gov. John Kasich delayed an execution scheduled for March until the fall to allow time for the report to be completed.
After McGuire’s execution, Louisiana announced it was switching to the same two drugs. Records obtained by the AP showed Ohio faxed a copy of its execution policies, including the use of the two drugs, to the head of Louisiana’s prisons agency on Jan. 27.
Florida uses midazolam as the first of three drugs. The agency won’t say where it gets the drug.