Minn. Pharmacy board sidesteps death penalty policy

December 15, 2014

The state Board of Pharmacy here decided not to vote on a policy that would bar the manufacture of lethal drugs by pharmacists for use in executions.

The state Board of Pharmacy here decided not to vote on a policy that would bar the manufacture of lethal drugs by pharmacists for use in executions.

Pharmacy regulators deemed the issue mute since they were not aware of any cases in which pharmacists from Minnesota supplied lethal drugs for executions. Minnesota does not have capital punishment.

Should pharmacists involved in lethal-injection compounding be identified?

"We haven't had the death penalty in Minnesota in 100 years," Board President Stuart Williams told the Star Tribune. "This is not an issue that is confronting any of the pharmacies or pharmacists in Minnesota."

The research director for Advocates for Human Rights, Rosalyn Park, urged pharmacy board members to take a stand against its members supplying lethal drugs for use in executions. "This is tantamount to torture and pharmacists should in no way have to be put into that position of having to make, sell, or otherwise provide these drugs for purposes of such an execution," she said.

Cody Wiberg, the pharmacy board's executive director, said protocols already in place would make it difficult for any pharmacist or compounding pharmacy to supply lethal drugs for use in executions. Minnesota state law requires a specific prescription for a specific inmate, and an in-patient physician examination to be valid. "When I take a look at the totality of laws and rules in this state, I think it would be incredibly difficult for a pharmacist to legally participate in this process and not violate one of the rules and statutes involved," Wiberg said.

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