Tulsa pharmacy that supplied execution drugs to Missouri being sold after admitting to nearly 2,000 violations

Missouri has a long tradition of coveting secrecy to hide the names of people it relies upon to help execute condemned prisoners.

State officials maintain the secrecy is necessary to protect those involved in executions. It also has the effect of shielding Missouri from embarrassment over its choices for people and companies it employs to carry out the state’s highest form of punishment.

The latest news is that the Apothecary Shoppe, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, compounding pharmacy linked to the Missouri Department of Corrections for its executions in 2013 and 2014, had admitted to violating nearly 2,000 guidelines established by regulators.

Buzzfeed reports that the Apothecary Shoppe’s violations run the gamut from dubious potency and sterilization techniques to producing testosterone injections without a viable medical need — plus many, many more. 

The Apothecary Shoppe is in receivership after defaulting on a bank loan, and its license is in probationary status. It has also been linked to executions in Louisiana and Georgia.

The Pitch first reported in January 2014 that the Apothecary Shoppe was the likely provider of Missouri’s execution drugs. The report surfaced shortly after Missouri resumed executing prisoners after a long break from using capital punishment. Missouri, like many other states, had trouble finding drugs after manufacturers blanched at the prospect of supplying pharmaceuticals meant for therapeutic purposes instead being used to kill people.

Criminal defense and appellate attorneys raised a number of concerns about using compounded pharmacies like the Apothecary Shoppe, which operate under less stringent regulations than drug manufacturers. Their concerns reflected the litany of violations that the Apothecary Shoppe admitted to — the sterilization, potency and measures of quality control that the Apothecary Shoppe failed to maintain.

It’s another black eye for capital punishment in Missouri. This latest news comes about a decade after it was revealed that Missouri used a physician with a history of malpractice lawsuits to assist with more than 50 executions. The same physician testified that he improvised the dosages for those executions and followed no set protocol and did not keep records of his procedures.

These incidents pierce the sanitized illusion of lethal injection. States in the 1980s and 1990s gravitated toward lethal injection because it seemed like a painless, uncontroversial method of execution after the electric chair and the gas chamber produced a number of macabre killings.

But lethal injections have accounted for several botched executions, many occurring over the last three years. A prominent example occurred in 2014 in Oklahoma, not long after Missouri resumed its executions. 

Still, states that continue executing prisoners have ramped up their secrecy on how it kills condemned prisoners. Despite operating under a cloak, troubling details have emerged over how states obtain the drugs necessary to keep up with its executions. Texas, Nebraska and Arizona, it was reported by Buzzfeed, obtained illegal shipments of sodium thiopental from a dubious source in India. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration seized the shipment.

Imagine how state officials would treat an ordinary person looking to import drugs this way. 

Categories: News