VIRGINIA (USA): EXECUTION COSTS SPIKE; STATE PAYS PHARMACY $66K
December 11, 2016: Virginia prison officials have paid a secret compounding pharmacy $66,000 to obtain lethal injection drugs for its next 2 executions - roughly 63 times last year's going price for the state's 3-drug lethal injection package.
Like other states, Virginia has struggled to obtain these drugs as pharmaceutical companies block their sale for executions to avoid being publicly accused of violating medical ethics. But under a new law, the state can have the drugs made at a compounding pharmacy and shield its identity from the public. Virginia's lethal injection protocol calls for the use of a sedative - pentobarbital or midazolam - followed by rocuronium bromide to halt breathing, and potassium chloride to stop the heart. The Virginia Department of Corrections has paid this pharmacy $66,000 since September for vials of midazolam and potassium chloride, according to receipts provided to The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request after the pharmacy's identifying information was redacted.
Virginia also recently purchased about $340 worth of rocuronium bromide from Cardinal Health, an Ohio-based pharmaceutical wholesaler, invoices show. This gives the state enough drugs to execute 2 inmates, according to Lisa Kinney, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, as long as legal appeals don't continue beyond the drugs' early-2017 expiration dates.
Virginia added midazolam to its drug protocol in 2014 but has not yet used it. Megan McCracken, a lethal injection expert at the University of California, Berkeley law school, said Virginia would be the 1st state she knows of to use compounded midazolam to execute an inmate. (Source: Associated Press, 11/12/2016)