APhA officially opposes lethal injections

March 31, 2015

The American Pharmacists Association this week adopted a policy discouraging pharmacists from providing drugs for use in lethal injections.

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) this week adopted a policy discouraging pharmacists from providing drugs for use in lethal injections.

Taking the position that providing drugs for such use is contrary to the role of pharmacists as healthcare providers, the ethical stance was adopted during APhA’s annual meeting in San Diego.

However, APhA has no legal authority to bar pharmacists from providing drugs for use in lethal injections, and many states have passed laws that shield the identities of doctors and pharmacists involved in such executions.

Should pharmacists involved in lethal-injection compounding be identified?

"Pharmacists are healthcare providers, and pharmacist participation in executions conflicts with the profession's role on the patient healthcare team," said APhA’sExecutive Vice President and CEO Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA. "This new policy aligns APhA with the execution policies of other major healthcare associations, including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and the American Board of Anesthesiology."

 

Prison systems, in the past several years, turned to compounding pharmacies to supply the drugs used in lethal injections as pharmaceutical manufacturers stopped selling the drugs. Death penalty opponents then began targeting the compounders.

"Now there is unanimity among all health professions in the United States who represent anybody who might be asked to be involved in this process," APhA member Bill Fassett told the Chicago Tribune.

Many states have already created backup plans for instances when lethal drugs are not available. Tennessee, for example, has approved using the electric chair; Utah has approved using firing squads; and Oklahoma is considering using nitrogen gas during executions.

 See also:

To the compounder of the Oklahoma execution drug: Come out of the shadows