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Nevada Execution Halted on Drugmaker's Lawsuit

12 July 2018

This would be the first time that fentanyl, one of the central drugs in the U.S. opioid epidemic, has been used in an execution in the United States, and it likely would be a first for cisatracurium as well, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. Dozier has insisted he wants to be executed and doesn't care if it's painful.

The order is the first time a drug company has successfully sued to halt an execution in the USA involving one of its drugs.

"NDOC has been advised not to comment on the lawsuit", department spokeswoman Brooke Santina said in an email Tuesday.

If the judge allows the state to move forward with Dozier's execution, he would be the first inmate put to death in Nevada in more than a decade.

This is the second lawsuit of its kind in the USA from a pharmaceutical company, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks data about the death penalty and has criticized the way capital punishment is administered in America.

Alvogen said the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of midazolam as therapy and any other use is an offence.

Foa said that states are usually obliged by the appeals process to subject the planned method of execution to legal scrutiny, particularly when a new drug protocol is being used.

With manufacturers unwilling to sell any drugs to be used in executions, Nevada's Department of Corrections quietly purchased small doses of fentanyl from Cardinal Health over several months and plans to use the prescription painkiller in combination with paralytic drug cisatracurium and sedative midazolam in the state's first execution in 12 years, scheduled for Wednesday, per the Guardian and Vice.

The lawsuit said that to perpetuate the deception, the authorities had the midazolam shipped to the department of correction's central pharmacy rather than to the prison where the execution is to take place.

Las Vegas defense attorney Scott Coffee, who analyzes death penalty cases across the country, pointed to the drug company's reference to irreparable harm and said that even if the judge denies Alvogen's request, the company could pursue the claim with a higher court.

Alvogen said in a statement that it was pleased with the ruling and will continue to work through the legal system to ensure its products are not used in executions.

Nevada announced last fall that it was preparing to use fentanyl in Dozier's execution.

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.

Nevada obtained the midazolam after its supply of another sedative, diazepam, commonly known as Valium, expired.

"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.

For all the maneuvering on his behalf, Dozier, who attempted suicide in the past, has said he prefers execution to life behind bars.

There's a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison, Dozier said in court hearings and letters to Clark County District Judge Jennifer Togliatti, who postponed his execution past year.

In the Arizona case, Dozier was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the shooting and mauling of 26-year-old Jasen Greene, whose body was found in 2002 in a shallow grave outside Phoenix. A witness testified that Dozier used a sledgehammer to break Greene's limbs so the corpse would fit in a plastic tote that Dozier used to transport meth, equipment and chemicals.

Dozier was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Jeremiah Miller, who was killed and dismembered in 2002.

The Nevada authorities refused to make public how they obtained the fentanyl and other drugs, but last week the ACLU won a court ruling forcing the department of corrections to hand over invoices. The victim's torso was found in a suitcase dumped in a trash bin in Las Vegas, according to the Nevada Department of Corrections. The state last executed someone in 2006. They argued the untried three-drug combination would be less humane than putting down a pet.

The drug was used in the execution of Joseph Wood in 2014, who took almost two hours to die, and led Arizona to stop using midazolam.

Nevada Execution Halted on Drugmaker's Lawsuit