Arkansas judge blocks state from using lethal injection drug in upcoming executions


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LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas judge issues an order blocking the state from using a lethal injection drug in its upcoming executions of 6 men.

A medical supplier of one of the three drugs the state plans to use to put the prisoners to death said it wasn’t sold to be used for lethal injections.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker is also considering a request from two drugmakers that their products not be used for capital punishment. Two pharmaceutical companies on Thursday filed a court brief asking the court to prohibit Arkansas from using their drugs, while San Francisco-based medical supply company McKesson said it sold Arkansas one drug believing it would be used for medical purposes.

Under Arkansas’ protocol, midazolam is used to sedate the inmate, vecuronium bromide then stops the inmate’s breathing and potassium chloride stops the heart.

Arkansas has been planning to execute seven inmates before the end of April, when its supply of midazolam expires. McKesson sold the state vecuronium bromide. In a statement Thursday night, McKesson said it complained to the state after learning that Arkansas planned to use the drug for lethal injections. The state said it would return the drug, McKesson said, and the company issued a refund, but the drug was never returned.

McKesson said it is considering “all possible means” to get the drug back, including legal action.

The news comes just after the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay of execution for one of the inmates, Bruce Ward.

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