In a move that could cause new complications in states that use the death penalty, the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists recommended this week that its members not take part in creating the preparations used in lethal-injection executions.
The rising debate over the practice of lethal injection in the U.S. has prompted a leading pharmacists group to weigh in.
On Tuesday, the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, which represents pharmacists who mix drugs to create personalized medications for patients, announced that its board of directors had adopted a policy position recommending that its members decline to take part in creating medications for use in executions.
“While the pharmacy profession recognizes an individual practitioner’s right to determine whether to dispense a medication based upon his or her personal, ethical, and religious beliefs, IACP discourages its members from participating in the preparation, dispensing, or distribution of compounded medications for use in legally authorized executions,” the IACP board said in a statement.
National Discussion Needed
The issue has directly affected compounding pharmacists in particular, due to the increasing scarcity of the drugs that states previously used to conduct executions. Critics also argue that providing drugs for lethal injection is incompatible with the Hippocratic Oath.
Last May, the issue hit a flash point when Clayton Lockett, an inmate being executed in Oklahoma, died after experiencing significant complications from a complex drug mixture being used for the first time.
In its statement, IACP explained that its members’ role in this issue arose specifically because “companies that manufacture the products traditionally used have unilaterally decided to stop selling them for use in executions.”
“IACP believes that a national discussion needs to be conducted on whether a pharmaceutical manufacturer can restrict the use of FDA-approved products only to purposes that adhere to their corporate values,” the board said.
The IACP move raises the possibility that state pharmacy boards will consider changes to rules governing the use of drugs in executions. Current regulations allow pharmacists to dispense medications for lethal injection if a licensed doctor writes a prescription, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“For any change in regulations or rule, the state boards would have to take action.” National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Executive Director Carmen Catizone told WSJ. “But a change in policy can be significant because it may prompt our members to take a closer look at an issue.”
The IACP announcement came a day after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill into law that would allow for the use of a firing squad in executions when lethal-injection drugs can’t be acquired.