Oklahoma pharmacy capitulates, won’t supply Missouri with execution drug

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Mounting legal pressure has caused Tulsa, Oklahoma, pharmacy the Apothecary Shoppe to back out of the lethal-injection business, at least as far as Missouri executions are concerned.

On the eve of a court hearing in Oklahoma, on whether to prolong an injunction against the pharmacy from supplying Missouri with pentobarbital, the Apothecary Shoppe reached a deal with Michael Taylor’s attorneys to not make the drug for his upcoming execution. Taylor’s attorneys succeeded last week in getting a temporary restraining order against the pharmacy’s supply chain to the Missouri Department of Corrections while federal courts sorted out the issues surrounding Missouri’s death-penalty protocol.

Missouri has made headlines around the country in recent months for its cat-and-mouse execution methods. The state either changes the drugs it uses or cloaks its drug supplier under a broad interpretation of state law that keeps members of its execution team secret. The Apothecary Shoppe did its business with Missouri in secret until The Pitch identified the compounding pharmacy in Tulsa as the likely supplier in January.

At issue is whether Missouri properly obtains its drug and whether it can definitively vouch for the efficacy of that drug. But Missouri’s insistence on secrecy as well as troubling revelations about how it gets the drug have cast doubt on the state’s promises that it’s doing its executions appropriately.

Taylor is scheduled to die in Missouri’s increasingly busy death chamber on February 26 for his role the 1989 kidnapping and slaying of Raytown’s Ann Harrison, who was 15 years old and waiting for a bus at the time of her death.

Missouri had relied on the Apothecary Shoppe as its secret back-channel drug supplier for its last three lethal injections over the same number of months. The state now will have to rely on some sort of backup plan to carry out Taylor’s execution on the scheduled date. Whatever that plan is, Taylor’s attorneys are certain to meet it with litigation that could delay the execution.

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