Judge bans drug in Nevada protocol, effectively delaying execution


A twice-convicted killer who wants to die rather than spend his life in prison was about an hour from eating his final meal on Wednesday when he found out a Nevada judge had indefinitely delayed his execution after a pharmaceutical company objected to the use of one of its drugs to put someone to death.

"While Alvogen takes no position on the death penalty itself, Alvogen's products were developed to save and improve patients' lives and their use in executions is fundamentally contrary to this goal", the company said in its complaint. A previous challenge in Arkansas was unsuccessful. Dozier has insisted he wants to be executed and doesn't care if it's painful. "It is deeply troubling that Nevada government officials are barreling ahead with execution when the chances of torturing Dozier are so high".

A third company, Pfizer, past year demanded Nevada return the third drug intended for use in the execution, the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Lawyer and death penalty expert Scott Coffee was quoted as calling the Dozier case "state-assisted suicide".

According to Nevada's execution protocol, the state's plan going into Wednesday was to inject Dozier with three drugs: midazolam to sedate him, fentanyl to cause him to lose consciousness and then cisatracurium to paralyze his muscles.

Jordan T Smith, an assistant Nevada solicitor general, countered at Wednesday's hearing that Nevada did not put up a "smokescreen" or do anything wrong in getting the drugs.

Alvogen was the second USA drugmaker since a year ago to take legal action against a state using one of its products to administer capital punishment, saying the brand would be tarnished by association with the process of putting people to death.

Cardinal Health did not immediately respond to phone or email requests for comment. "The court is right to enjoin the state from proceeding with the execution using drugs that have been illegally procured".

Last year, McKesson Medical-Surgical sued Arkansas after it discovered the state was using one of its drugs in an attempt to execute 10 men in eight days. Dozier, who is on death row and is asking a judge to force the state to carry out his execution.

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District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez said the Nevada Department of Corrections can't use midazolam, a sedative produced by pharmaceutical company Alvogen Inc.

"The Nevada Attorney General's office would prosecute, criminally, any doctor or other private citizen that engaged in this very conduct of trying to acquire drugs that you know and you have been warned you are not to acquire for this objective".

The judge ruled that based on that letter, Alvogen had a reasonable chance of winning its lawsuit, and she issued the temporary restraining order against the use of the drug. Corrections spokeswoman Brooke Santina said the execution would remain effectively postponed for at least that long.

Executions in several states have been stymied by global drug companies' opposition to supplying products for death sentences, and difficulties in finding effective replacements.

Death-penalty watchers have pointed to inconsistent results with midazolam since the 2014 executions of Dennis McGuire in OH and Josph Rudolph Wood III in Arizona.

"Life in prison isn't a life", the 47-year-old Army veteran and methamphetamine user and dealer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently.

There was a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison, Dozier said in court hearings and letters a year ago, according to ABC News in the US. Every state that has included midazolam in its lethal injection protocol has seen gruesome botched executions as a result. Miller's torso was later found in a suitcase in a trash bin, local media reported.

He was convicted of second-degree murder in the Arizona slaying of Jasen "Griffin" Greene and sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2005, before he was brought to Nevada to face charges in Miller's death. Last year, Dozier dropped his death penalty appeals and asked to be executed. They argued the untried three-drug combination would be less humane than putting down a pet.