UPDATE: Missouri Corrections Department to use pentobarbital in executions

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 | 2:41 p.m. CDT; updated 4:23 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 22, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Missouri Department of Corrections announced Tuesday that it will use pentobarbital for a new one-drug execution protocol.

The execution of Joseph Franklin, scheduled for Nov. 20, will be the first in Missouri under this new protocol. Franklin was convicted of killing Gerald Gordon outside a St. Louis-area synagogue in 1977.

The change in protocol comes after Gov. Jay Nixon delayed the execution of Allen Nicklasson until after Nov. 20 in light of controversy over propofol, the drug the department had planned to use until manufacturers requested Missouri return its supply and doctors raised concerns about jeopardizing the supply of the widely used anesthetic.

In its announcement in a news release, the Corrections Department also said it “has added a compounding pharmacy to its execution team” that will be responsible for supplying the pentobarbital. The news release does not identify the compounding pharmacy or where it is located.

Corrections Department spokesman David Owen said in an email that the identity of members of the execution team are privileged and would not be released, citing the Missouri statutes that govern the state's death penalty.

Other states have used pentobarbital in lethal injections, but the Danish manufacturer of the drug, Lundbeck, said in 2011 that it would stop selling the drug for use in executions. States such as Texas and Ohio have recently turned to compounding pharmacies to supply their needs. The pharmacies mix prescriptions for specific patients’ needs and are regulated by the states, but not the Food and Drug Administration. The drug has been used by seven states in more than 25 executions this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

In Texas, executions have continued with the use of a supply of pentobarbital that was acquired from a compounding pharmacy near Houston. After the pharmacy was identified by a public record’s request, it asked Texas to return the drugs — a request the state has denied.

Supervising editor is Gary Castor.

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