Nevada execution could be derailed by drug company’s lawsuit

Nevada execution could be derailed by drug company’s lawsuit

Nevada execution could be derailed by drug company’s lawsuit

Nevada's last execution was in 2006.

The state is planning to use three drugs - midazolam (a sedative), fentanyl (the high-potency opioid) and cisatracurium (a paralytic) - to execute Scott Dozier on Wednesday at 8 p.m. (11 p.m. ET).

Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid at the heart of the USA opioid epidemic, has never been used in an execution before, but it is midazolam at the centre of Alvogen's last-minute lawsuit.

Wednesday's delay came after a judge in Las Vegas told prison officials they could not immediately use a sedative produced by a pharmaceutical company that objected to having it used to put someone to death.

A Nevada inmate slated to die by a three-drug lethal injection combination never before used in the US has said repeatedly he wants his sentence carried out and he doesn't care if it's painful. Depending on what happens in Dozier's case, Nebraska ultimately could wind up carrying out the first fentanyl-assisted execution, something that state is seeking to do this summer. He has been asking to be put to death for more than a year and appeared to be about to get his wish after waiving his appeals and thwarting his defense lawyers' attempts to obtain a stay of execution.

The condemned man was sentenced to death in 2007 for a first-degree murder conviction in Nevada following a previous second-degree murder conviction in Arizona. Miller's torso was later found in a suitcase in a trash bin, local media reported.

Dozier was convicted in 2005 of a murder and dismemberment near Phoenix, Arizona.

A U.S. court indefinitely suspended the execution of a murder convict after a pharmaceutical company issued an appeal against its product being used as part of the lethal injection.

On Tuesday, the drug company filed a lawsuit asserting that use of its product for a state killing would cause "irreparable injury to Alvogen, its reputation, and its goodwill".

Executions in several states have been stymied by global drug companies' opposition to supplying products for death sentences, and difficulties in finding effective replacements.

"With respect to the alleged intent of the ..."

Lethal injection was first written into USA law by the state of Oklahoma, in 1977.

The department of corrections will not comment on the case.

"They plan on misusing it", Tom Bice, a lawyer for the drug company, said in court.

"Midazolam is not approved for use in such an application", the document said, adding uses of midazolam in other states "have been extremely controversial and have led to widespread concern that prisoners have been exposed to cruel and unusual treatment". "In furtherance of this effort, Alvogen does not accept direct orders from prison systems or departments of correction".

The execution plan for Dozier was revised last month to substitute midazolam for expired prison stocks of diazepam, a sedative commonly known as Valium that the state previously slated as the first drug in the lethal injection protocol.

The midazolam is expected to render Dozier unconscious before he is injected with the fentanyl. These included the 2014 attempt to execute Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, which was called off after he regained consciousness but died of a heart attack 40 minutes later.

The news divided experts. The legal challenge filed by Alvogen is only the second of its kind in the U.S, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. "This sounds like an article from the Onion", referring to a news satire website. They said the drugs were "illicitly and improperly obtained".

The resulting shortage of deadly drugs has lasted several years, as several major laboratories refuse to stock United States prisons to avoid the bad PR of being associated with the death penalty.

The lawsuit said that to perpetuate the deception, the authorities had the midazolam shipped to the department of correction's central pharmacy rather than to the prison where the execution is to take place. That decision paved the way for Dozier's scheduled execution.

"I've been very clear about my desire to be executed ... even if suffering is inevitable", Scott Raymond Dozier said in a handwritten note to a state court judge who postponed his execution last November over concerns that the untried drug regimen could leave him suffocating, conscious and unable to move a muscle. "We've seen them consider abolishing the death penalty", said Dunham.

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