Tell the American Pharmacists Association: Stop enabling inhumane executions.
Doctors, nurses and major pharmaceutical companies already refuse to participate in executions -- but the American Pharmacists Association is allowing a small group of shady, unregulated pharmacies to experiment with untested lethal injection cocktails, with barbaric results.
On Tuesday, the cocktail of drugs provided to the state of Oklahoma led to the gruesome, botched execution of Clayton Lockett.
After initially being declared unconscious by prison officials, Mr. Lockett began writhing on the gurney, which prompted prison officials to halt his execution. He died of a heart attack shortly thereafter, 43 minutes after the execution began.1
And this comes after January’s grisly execution of Dennis McGuire by the state of Ohio, which administered a never-before-used mix of drugs that caused him to slowly suffocate to death over 25 minutes.
Professional associations for doctors and nurses have long since prohibited their members from participating in any executions. Tell the American Pharmacists Association to join them.
There is a tremendous human and monetary cost to the death penalty. It ought to be abolished outright -- and it shouldn’t take botched executions to show the American Pharmacists Association that providing the drugs to execute people violates pharmacists’ ethical obligation not to harm their patients.
But this issue has become more acute because lethal injection is the last remaining method of execution allowed by most states. And it can't go forward without assistance from medical professionals.
A growing number of European and Asian drug manufacturers are refusing to sell drugs for use in executions.
This has led to the rise of untested injection cocktails supplied by "compound pharmacists" in the U.S. -- controversial and unregulated drug manufacturers that aren't bound by FDA regulations. 2
Out of fear that public pressure will shut down their suppliers, states have been refusing to reveal the source and type of lethal injection drugs used in executions -- making it difficult for judges to determine if these drugs should be considered a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.” But the inhumane results ought to leave no doubts.
Tell the American Pharmacists Association to join them.
The American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Board of Anesthesiology, and the American Nurses Association all believe that taking another person's life against his or her will is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, and explicitly prohibit their members from assisting in executions.
The American Pharmacists Association has a similar code of ethics, but it does not explicitly ban participation in executions. Adding just a few words would prevent shady pharmacists from enabling our broken and deeply immoral system of state-sponsored killing in the United States.
Pharmacists are supposed to help people, not provide drugs that lead to a slow, torturous death.
Tell the American Pharmaceutical Association: Stop enabling executions.
Thank you for speaking out.
Mark Berman, "Inmate dies following botched Oklahoma execution, second execution delayed," WashingtonPost.com, April 29, 2014.
Tara Culp-Ressler, "One Sentence That Could Help End The Death Penalty In America," ThinkProgress.com, April 10, 2014