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Execution With Experimental Drug Blocked... For Now

Evidence suggests pentobarbital causes severe pain when used in lethal injections

Common Dreams staff

A federal judge on Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order to block a compounding pharmacy from selling a controversial and untested drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections for use in an upcoming execution of a man on death row.

U.S. District Court Judge Terence Kern issued the order in response to a lawsuit from Michael Taylor, who is scheduled to die on February 26th. Taylor's attorneys charged that the drug pentobarbital, supplied by The Apothecary Shoppe that contracts with the state of Missouri, would cause "severe, unnecessary, lingering and ultimately inhumane pain" to their client.

The attorneys invoked evidence that this experimental drug, which many states are turning to amid shortages of execution drugs, caused severe pain when used in recent executions. This includes the statement by Michael Lee Wilson, who was on death row in Oklahoma, that he could feel his "whole body burning" just seconds after receiving the lethal injection on January 9th.

Kern scheduled an evidentiary hearing for Tuesday.  It is not clear if Taylor's execution will be delayed.


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