Manufacturer asks Oklahoma to return any execution drugs

Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Oklahoma Executions
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Illinois-based manufacturer of a drug used in Oklahoma's lethal injection process is asking the state to return any supplies it may have obtained and not to use its products to execute prisoners.

In a letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the drug manufacturer Akorn also said it was taking steps to ensure that the sedative midazolam no longer be made available to states for use in executions. The company said the painkiller hydromorphone, which Oklahoma doesn't use, also won't be available.

"If your prisons have purchased Akorn products directly or indirectly for use in capital punishment we ask that you immediately return our products for a full refund," Akorn's general counsel, Joseph Bonaccorsi, wrote in the March 4 letter.

Bonaccorsi and a company spokesman did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment Thursday.

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Manufacturer asks Oklahoma to return any execution drugs
393846 06: A gurney and a electric chair sit in the death chamber of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility August 29, 2001 in Lucasville, Ohio. The state of Ohio is one of the few states that still uses the electric chair, and it gives death row inmates a choice between death by the electric chair or by lethal injection. John W. Byrd, who will be executed on September 12, 2001, has stated that he will choose the electric chair. (Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images)
393846 05: A view of the death chamber from the witness room at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility shows an electric chair and gurney August 29, 2001 in Lucasville, Ohio. The state of Ohio is one of the few states that still uses the electric chair, and it gives death row inmates a choice between death by the electric chair or by lethal injection. John W. Byrd, who will be executed on September 12, 2001, has stated that he will choose the electric chair. (Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images)
 A huge crowd of over 15, 000 people gathers around a scaffold to witness the public hanging of 22-year old Rainey Bethea August 14, 1936 in Owensboro, Kentucky. Public outrage over the manner of execution made Bethea's death the last public hanging in the country. (Photo by Newsmakers)
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Akorn is one of several manufacturers of midazolam, a common surgical sedative that Oklahoma began using last year as the first in a three-drug lethal injection protocol.

It is not clear if Oklahoma obtained its midazolam from Akorn. State officials are prohibited from revealing the source.

Pruitt spokesman Aaron Cooper referred all questions about the drug to the Department of Corrections, which is responsible for obtaining the drugs used in executions.

DOC spokeswoman Terri Watkins said the department had obtained the drugs necessary to carry out three executions that have been delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether the use of midazolam is appropriate for executions. She declined to comment further.

During oral arguments before the nation's highest court on Wednesday, an attorney representing the inmates argued midazolam is ineffective in preventing searing pain from one of the other drugs used in the process.

Death penalty states like Oklahoma have been forced to find alternative drugs to use for executions because of opposition to the death penalty from drug manufacturers. During oral arguments on Wednesday that lasted for more than an hour, conservative Justice Samuel Alito said death penalty opponents are waging a "guerrilla war" against executions by working to limit the supply of more effective drugs.

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