Nevada judge halts execution after objections from drug company

Nevada judge halts execution after objections from drug company

Nevada plans to execute a convicted murderer with a combination of drugs that has never been used before to carry out a capital punishment sentence.

The state of Nevada had not yet appealed by midday.

According to the pharmaceutical company, the state obtained their drug illegally, and Alvogen wants that drug returned to them.

Scott Raymond Dozier appears in a photo provided by the Nevada Department of Corrections, July 11, 2018.

"Midazolam is not approved for use in such an application", the document said, adding uses of midazolam in other states "have been extremely controversial and have led to widespread concern that prisoners have been exposed to cruel and unusual treatment". Clark County District Court spokeswoman Mary Ann Price said the company would also need to file with Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez a request for a court order to halt the proceeding.

Gonzalez's ruling delays the execution of Scott Dozier, 47, who was set to be put to death on Wednesday evening.

The Nevada Department of Corrections released this photograph of midazolam it purchased as one of three drugs used in an execution.
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Brooke Santina, public information officer for the Nevada Department of Corrections, told CNN that it has been advised not to comment on the lawsuit.

McKesson said it wanted nothing to do with executions and accused the state of obtaining vecuronium bromide, a drug used to stop inmates' lungs, under false pretenses.

It is the first case in which an execution has been halted by a lawsuit from a drugmaker, death-penalty experts said.

Midazolam has been used with inconsistent results in states including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida and Ohio. He said Alvogen didn't have a contract in place with Cardinal Health that would have blocked the drug's sale for executions.

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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. "Nevada Department of Corrections to use our midazolam product in an execution, we are exploring all potential avenues, including legal recourse, to prevent the improper use of our product in this particular execution", Alvogen spokesman Halldór Kristmannsson said.

A second pharmaceutical company, Sandoz, also raised objections at Wednesday's hearing to the use of one of its drugs - the muscle-paralyzing substance cisatracurium - in Dozier's execution.

The lawsuit is the second legal challenge to an execution by a drug company in the U.S. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid well known for its role in the opioid epidemic, has "never been used in an execution before". But the legal challenge filed by Alvogen is only the second of its kind in the USA, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.

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

Last year, a pharmaceutical company sued the state of Arkansas over drugs used in its lethal injections, but was unsuccessful. Earlier that year, another inmate, Clayton Lockett, had been injected with midazolam, but instead of becoming unconscious, he twitched, convulsed and spoke.

A third company, Pfizer, past year demanded Nevada return the third drug intended for use in the execution, the powerful opioid fentanyl. He said drugs ordered by the state prison system are regularly shipped to Las Vegas.

His would be the first execution in Nevada since 2006.

Dozier was sentenced to die in 2007 for first-degree murder with a deadly weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon in the slaying of Jeremiah Miller.

Dozier, a twice-convicted killer who attempted suicide in the past, repeated his desire to die during a brief telephone interview Sunday with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His decapitated torso was found in a suitcase.

In 2005, Dozier was sentenced to 22 years in prison for shooting to death another drug-trade associate, 26-year-old Jasen Greene, whose body was found in 2002 in a shallow grave outside Phoenix.

He did, however, let federal public defenders challenge the execution protocol drawn up past year by state medical and prison officials. They argued that the untried three-drug combination would be less humane than putting down a pet.

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