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    Federal judge slams secrecy of compounding pharmacies

    Questions drug source used in executions

    Ned MilenkovichNed MilenkovichEighth Circuit Court of Appeals judge Kermit Bye attacked the secret use of compounding pharmacies to supply drugs deployed in lethal injections in a February 26, 2014 Missouri execution of Michael Taylor, 47, for the 1989 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl. Taylor was put to death with a whopping dose of pentobarbital obtained from a pharmacist whose identity the state refused to disclose.

    Both the Eighth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court refused to grant Taylor a stay of execution. Bye, however, dissented and drafted a passionate opinion about the secrecy shrouding execution practice in the United States.

    Bye used an Eighth Amendment Constitutional argument, stating “[the Eighth Amendment] prohibits the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain through torture, barbarous methods, or methods resulting in a lingering death.” He added that in light of “the absolute dearth of information Missouri has disclosed to this court, the ‘pharmacy’ on which Missouri relies could be nothing more than a high school chemistry class.”

    Bye was joined in his dissent by two other appellate court judges. It is significant that three Supreme Court Justices  — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor — backed Bye in his attack.

    Justice Ginsburg wrote, “For reasons well stated by Judge Bye in his statement calling for Eighth Circuit rehearing en banc, I would grant the stay and consider the petition for certiorari in the ordinary course.”

    Ned Milenkovich, PharmD, JD
    This article is not intended as legal advice and should not be used as such. When legal questions arise, pharmacists should consult with ...


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