FDA Warns Ohio Not To Buy Unapproved Execution Drugs Abroad


Ohio prison officials, scrambling to find drugs for the next execution five months away, had the door slammed on obtaining them from foreign sources, reports the Columbus Dispatch A U.S. Food and Drug Administration official warned corrections director Gary Mohr the agency would be breaking the law if it bought execution drugs overseas. Domenic Veneziano, FDA import director, said Ohio “intends to obtain bulk and finished dosage forms of sodium thiopental. Since sodium thiopental is not available in the United States, we assume the product would be obtained from an overseas source.” He added, “Please note that there is no FDA approved application for sodium thiopental and it is illegal to import an unapproved new drug into the United States.” The FDA sent a similar letter to Nebraska officials.

Ohio prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the state did not follow through with an overseas purchase. She acknowledged the state does not yet have drugs for the next execution.The fact the state has not procured execution drugs means a new law, passed by the General Assembly and effective earlier this year, may not be working as expected. The law allows prisons to buy drugs under secret contracts with “compounding pharmacies” without public disclosure of the source. Compounding pharmacies are typically smaller businesses which mix ingredients to user specifications. There are more than 1,000 such pharmacies in Ohio, but only a fraction of them mix injectible drugs. The law was criticized by the Ohio Newspaper Association among others for hiding important public business behind closed doors.

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