NV Wants Fentanyl Combination Used for Upcoming Executions

An opioid at the heart of America’s drug epidemic, Fentanyl, will be used for death row executions in Nevada if the state’s Supreme Court approves the never-before-tried combination of drugs. Fentanyl, a highly addictive and deadly opioid, is sought for the Nevada execution of Scott Dozier alongside Valium and paralytic cisatracurium, a muscle relaxer. Nebraska wants to use the same untried trio in an upcoming execution with potassium chloride, a more common chemical in lethal injections.

The use of fentanyl would be unusual, given the drug’s troubled reputation right now, said Austin Sarat, a professor at Amherst College, who studies botched injections and execution methods. “It’s ironic at best that [the states want] to use this drug to kill someone. Throughout the United States, there is a concern about people dying on the street in the opioid epidemic, and fentanyl is involved in many of those deaths. On one hand, the government wants to prevent those deaths, but...will now appropriate this drug and use it in a lethal injection protocol.”

States experiment with lethal drugs because there is no set protocol for death row executions. That leaves a lot of room for error. Around 7 percent of lethal injections are botched or go wrong in some way. The synthetic opioid fentanyl is cited in at least half the 20,000 deaths of people who died of opioid overdoses in 2016. Fentanyl was originally designed as a highly regulated drug to ease extreme pain, but its illegal use is causing overdose deaths to rapidly increase across the U.S.

“On one side of their mouths, the states are saying fentanyl is an extremely dangerous drug contributing to the burgeoning public health crisis, and on the other side, they’re saying it’s a safe and effective drug to use in executions,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. The American Pharmacists Association opposes pharmacists cooperation with executions because it is “fundamentally contrary” to their role as health care providers. Nevada solicited bids for execution drugs in September after running out of its execution stockpile. The state received no offers, so the director of the state Department of Corrections developed the unlikely drug combination.

Nevada County Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti paused Dozier’s execution, which was scheduled for November 14, out of concern that the suggested use of paralytic cisatracurium could mask signs of pain or hide a botched execution. When used alongside fentanyl, cisatracurium can cause hypertension and death. Nebraska is expected to request a death warrant for Jose Sandoval, but will likely face the legal challenges Nevada is seeing.

Dozier has spent more than nine years on death row for the murder of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller. Dozier has asked courts for his own death, and his lawyers say it’s important to ensure that his death will be painless. The American Civil Liberties Union has criticized Nevada for the “experimental execution” with never-before-used drugs as inhumane.

  • 3 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • very interesting...  i'm not quite sure what i think about this.
  • I'm not a big fan of the death penalty, but Fentanyl sure has a reputation as a deadly drug that kills people easily. That said... Like @dominica, I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. 
  • I am glad we don’t have the death penalty. How many innocent lives have been lost due to incorrect rulings or lives that have been ruined from someone being on death row for 20 years then DNA shows they are innocent.
    It is tough though because if I were to lean towards it, I would think psychopath serial killers would be best to put to death since they can’t feel feelings like normal ppl do. Locking them up won’t make them regret or feel bad. They just have mis-wired brains and there’s no treatment for it. It would be affective if they got the right dosage... and maybe less painful, and easier to ensure a successful (seems wrong using that word when describing death) murder.
    But then where do you draw the line? Child molesters? What about irresponsible parents who’s kids get into their drug stash? Then anyone who is charged with assault on a minor.? Yea idk it’s so complicated a topic and it goes with why is it ok but assisted suicide is not when it’s an older person dying of a terminal illness, suffering and wants to pass on. Shouldn’t it be reversed? Allow the 90 year old grampa in excruciating pain die n don’t kill inmates?

    Sorry for my rant, I’m over tired but couldn’t help read more posts.
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