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German Drug Company Sues Nebraska Over Use of Drugs for Lethal Injection

Dr. Partha Sarathi Sahana / Flickr Creative Commons

The Washington Post reports that a German drugmaker, Fresenius Kabi, has sued the state of Nebraska in federal court over what the company believes is Nebraska’s plan to use two of its drugs in the lethal injection of convicted murderer Carey Dean Moore.

Moore was sentenced in 1979 for killing two Omaha cab drivers. Moore, the Post says, “is not contesting his sentence.” Still, as the Post reports, “the German company’s lawsuit could tie up his death sentence as the case moves through the legal system.”

While Nebraska has not revealed its sources for the drugs it plans to use for the execution, the Post reports that they are “a mix of the narcotic painkiller fentanyl citrate, the sedative diazepam, the muscle relaxer cisatracurium and potassium chloride, a drug that stops the heart.”

Fresenius Kabi believes it would be the source of the last two drugs. The Nebraska attorney general’s office said in a statement that “Nebraska’s lethal injection drugs were purchased lawfully and pursuant to the state of Nebraska’s duty to carry out lawful capital sentences.”

The death penalty is outlawed in the European Union, of which Germany is a member. Because of that ban, Fresenius Kabi’s lawsuit states that it could suffer “great reputational injury” if its drugs are used in Moore’s execution.

This isn’t the first time a pharmaceutical company has objected to its products being used for lethal injection. The Post reports that in July:

Multinational pharmaceutical company Alvogen accused the heads of Nevada’s prisons of working to illegally buy one of its drugs to use in an execution of [Scott Raymond] Dozier, who was convicted in 2007 of robbing, killing and dismembering a 22-year-old man in Las Vegas. He was also convicted in Arizona in 2005 of another murder and dismemberment near Phoenix.

In recent months, the Post continues, “Injectable drugs have become difficult to obtain because of several drug manufacturers’ refusal to sell their products to prisons for use in executions.”

An anonymous national death-penalty expert also told the media that these two cases could be a setup for a “showdown” between the makers of injectable drugs and states that uphold the death penalty.

Moore’s lethal injection was originally scheduled for next week.

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