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November 13, 2009

Ohio adopting a new one-drug lethal injection protocol

Big news for lethal injection fans from my home state: as detailed in this local report, "Ohio will switch to a single drug instead of a three-drug cocktail in its new execution procedure, according to documents filed in federal court this morning."  Here are more details:

Executions will use a single drug, thiopental sodium, "in an amount sufficient to cause death," Attorney General Richard Cordray's office said in filing in U.S. District Court in Columbus.  The drug is an anesthetic.  The new procedure will be in place by Nov 30.

The new procedure is similar to one used in euthanizing pets: a massive dose of an anesthetic.  The drug is also sometimes used in medically-induced comas.  Ohio will be the first state in the U.S. to use the one-drug procedure.

The state filing also listed a new backup procedure, if the first one doesn't work or can't be used.  The backup method involves an injection with a needle into a large muscle such as the arm or upper thigh.  It was described as "much like a flu shot."  One of the drugs to be used is Dilaud, a commonly used painkiller.

"I have full confidence that this protocol will allow my staff the ability to fulfill our legally mandated obligation in carrying out the execution process for the state of Ohio," said Terry Collins, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction....

Ohio would become the first state to make major changes in a three-drug execution process that was essentially copied by 35 states from Oklahoma, where it was developed by an anesthesiologist in 1977.

Seems like Friday afternoon is a bad time to do away with cocktails, but I guess Ohio thinks a shot straight up will now be adequate to do the trick.  (Sorry for the gallows humor, but it is hard to resist on a Friday afternoon.)  In all seriousness, this is big news in the lethal injection protocol debates, and it will be interesting to see how it is received among those who have been most vocal in their objections to the old cocktail approach.

UPDATE:  I was able to get a copy of the new Ohio lethal injection plan submitted in federal court today.  That plan appears as an appendix to a motion in Ohio's on-going lethal injection litigation, and all of this can be downloaded here: Download Ohio new lethal injection plan

November 13, 2009 at 02:29 PM | Permalink


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Is it against FDA regulations to use a drug when it is contraindicated? For that matter, does it need FDA approval for use in executions?

4.3 Contraindications

Thiopental is contraindicated in respiratory obstruction, acute asthma, severe shock and dystrophia myotonica. Administration of any barbiturate is contraindicated in porphyria.

Care should also be exercised with severe cardiovascular diseases, severe respiratory diseases and hypertension of various aetiology.

Patients with hypersensitivity reactions to barbiturates.

Posted by: George | Nov 13, 2009 4:15:56 PM

Every drug used for lethal injections is "contraindicated" in that sense. I don't think the FDA has objected. The FDA's mission is to ensure that drugs are used safely. Lethal injection is meant to be fatal.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Nov 13, 2009 4:43:38 PM

The reason the conventional ethical rules of medicine do not apply is the one suggested by Marc: The doctor's ethical obligations are to the patient, and the condemned killer is not a patient.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 13, 2009 4:54:32 PM

Marc, there's caselaw on that.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 13, 2009 4:55:31 PM

The vet amicus brief in Baze.

I thought it funny.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 14, 2009 12:38:19 AM

The Ohio AG is a fool if he thinks the changes render the claims moot and that they can promptly reschedule these executions. The next step is, surely, for the inmates to seek to amend their complaints to challenge the new protocol. And changing the protocol so drastically will essentially write Cooey and Getsy off the books in the sixth circuit, so it will be years before these guys are actually executed.

Posted by: A. Nony. Mous | Nov 14, 2009 9:11:28 AM

Too bad Fentynol(sp) patches would take too long. A few people manage to kill themselves accidentally every year using that method and it requires absolutely no special training.

The main problem I have with this announced change is that it does not appear to address the actual problems that have been experienced in the past. I know they have added the IM injection but I see that as being different enough that it will be a potential sticking point in the litigation.

Almost seems like it would be worthwhile to purpose manufacture death-patches using something that can pass through the skin and be quickly lethal.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Nov 14, 2009 11:37:00 AM

The one-drug method has problems of its own.

Posted by: John Roberts | Nov 14, 2009 1:14:40 PM

Soronel: about 150 people commit suicide with fentanyl patches. They are likely also habituated to the drug. You may be referring to their final outcomes.

If you put on 10 or 20 patches, press them with hot compresses to accelerate delivery, and 10-20 patches of clonidine, I would like to see someone survive that for 15 minutes.

If you are in a big rush, shoot the person in the head. Nothing wrong with that either, except in the Twilight Zone world of the criminal lover lawyer and Supreme Court. When their time has come to be executed after conviction of insurrection against the Constitution, they will see a shot to the head is not cruel at all.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 14, 2009 3:45:55 PM


Did s.c. just commit a federal crime?

Posted by: Texas Lawyer | Nov 14, 2009 9:54:31 PM

Texas: For the umptieth time, no. I am not posting the legal analysis anymore. It is from the Supreme Court itself.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 15, 2009 1:14:09 AM

How does the new lethal injection drug work compared to the previous 3?

Posted by: cialis online | Feb 5, 2010 3:59:30 PM

Anyway, helping them to leave quickly will help them reduce the pain, free them quickly

Posted by: mua ban thuioc | Jul 8, 2020 11:07:19 PM

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