MO Doctors Say Use of Anesthetic in Execution Could Jeopardize U.S. Supply


Hundreds of Missouri anesthesiologists urged the state not to use propofol in an planned execution, saying the fallout could jeopardize the availability of the anesthetic relied on by thousands of U.S. hospitals and clinics, reports the Associated Press. The Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists statement followed an AP report citing possible European export controls if propofol is used in a U.S. execution. Missouri is the only U.S. state where prison officials plan to use the powerful anesthetic for a lethal injection, citing a shortage in the drugs usually used for executions.

Propofol is the most commonly used anesthetic in the U.S., and 85 percent of it is made in Europe. The European Union opposes the death penalty and is weighing whether to limit export, raising concerns about a potential U.S. shortage. “We urge the Department of Corrections not to jeopardize the safety of over 50 million patients who rely on this critical medication for anesthesia during surgery each year,” MSA president Dr. Larry Petersen said. “A shortage of this medication will take the medical specialty of anesthesiology back 20 years, leading to more complications in the operating room, an increased rate of nausea and vomiting after surgery, and extended time required to wake up from anesthesia after a procedure.”

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