Arkansas executions blocked again by healthcare company suit

By agency reporter
April 20, 2017

America’s largest drug wholesaler has once again succeeded in blocking the use of dishonestly-obtained medicines in Arkansas’s planned 'mass execution'.

A judge in the Pulaski County Circuit Court has granted a temporary restraining order blocking the use of medicines in lethal injection executions, following an unprecedented lawsuit by the healthcare company McKesson, which Fortune ranks as America’s 5th most successful firm.(http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23892)

As long as the order remains in place, the state is barred from proceeding with the executions of Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee, which had been scheduled for today (20 April 2017). The state is expected to appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

This is the second such order obtained by McKesson, following an injunction obtained on similar grounds on 14 April. McKesson withdrew that suit after the executions were stayed by a US federal court, but re-filed its petition yesterday evening after that court’s stay was lifted.

McKesson’s suit marks the first time in US legal history that a private company has brought direct legal action to prevent the misuse of medicines in executions. The suit alleges that that the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC):

  • purchased the products under the medical license of an Arkansas physician, and “represented that the order was placed at the request of a physician and with the intent to use the products for a legitimate medical purpose.”;
  • had the products shipped to “the address previously used for its healthcare facility’s orders” and asked “that the ordering process not be documented via e-mail”;
  • assured McKesson it would return the products, accepted a full refund, then reneged on its pledge and “kept both the illegally obtained Vecuronium and the returned funds.”

Maya Foa, an expert at the international rights group Reprieve, said: “Today McKesson has shown that the healthcare industry will do what it takes to prevent the grave misuse of medicines in executions. Arkansas obtained these drugs from McKesson through a sustained campaign of deception, which saw it deliberately mislead the company about the products’ intended purpose then renege on a promise to return them after they were given a full refund.

 “In its efforts to ‘enforce the law’ Arkansas has ridden roughshod over private companies’ legal agreements and the interests of Arkansas patients, and today’s ruling shows this will not pass unchallenged.”

* Reprieve http://www.reprieve.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

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