ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri death-row inmate scheduled for execution this month says the state prison system is improperly storing expired doses of a new lethal injection drug provided by an Oklahoma pharmacy that's not licensed to do business in the neighboring state.
Attorneys for Herbert Smulls filed a complaint with the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy on Friday. They want the board to recall an "expired, unsafe" batch of the sedative pentobarbital provided to Missouri by an unidentified Oklahoma compounding pharmacy. The complaint says the pharmacy gave erroneous instructions to store the drug at room temperature, a violation of accepted pharmaceutical standards.
Defense attorney Cheryl Pilate said a top Missouri Department of Corrections official testified Wednesday in a deposition that he is keeping the compounded pentobarbital in his office until the Jan. 29 execution. Industry standards, by contrast, say such drugs should only be used within 24 to 48 hours when kept at room temperature, she said.
"They already have a defective drug for my client," she said. "They are acting casual and indifferent to pharmacy compounding standards."
A spokesman for the Missouri Department Corrections did not immediately respond to an interview request. Calls to the Oklahoma regulatory agency were directed to a compliance officer who is out of the office until next week.
Missouri switched to its one-drug execution method late last year and has since killed two inmates. The complaint filed Friday includes Missouri state records showing the pentobarbital given to both inmates had expired eight to 10 days earlier.
The compounding pharmacy's identity is blacked out of the documents obtained by Smulls' attorney under state public records laws and through legal proceedings. Missouri says the pharmacy is a member of the execution team protected under state privacy laws.
Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier
- Crime & Justice
- Society & Culture