New York Drug Company Identified, Says It Doesn't Want Part In Arkansas Lethal Injection

Nov 8, 2017

Credit Arkansas Department of Correction

The state of Arkansas has identified a New York pharmaceutical company – that doesn’t want its product used in executions – as the manufacturer of a recently acquired lethal injection drug. Arkansas was to carry out an execution Thursday night before the state Supreme Court granted an emergency stay based on questions about the mental health of death row inmate Jack Greene.

The Associated Press reported today on a package insert included as part of an affidavit that identified the manufacturer as Athenex. Arkansas law keeps some information about its lethal injection supplies secret from the public. Last week the state Supreme Court ruled state secrecy only applies to the supplier of the drug, not its manufacturer.

Athenex issued a statement that it has a policy of not letting its drug, midazolam, be used for the death penalty. Further, it explicitly states it has agreements with distributors that its product should not be sold to corrections officials if it is believed to be tied to executions.

“Athenex is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of patients by supplying an extensive portfolio of injectable pharmaceutical products. Athenex does not want any of our products used in capital punishment. Since inception of marketing these products, Athenex implemented appropriate distribution controls and other measures with our wholesaler partners to prevent our products being used in capital punishment. Athenex does not accept orders from correctional facilities and prison systems for products believed to be part of certain states’ lethal injection protocols. Further, Athenex distributors and wholesalers have agreements with Athenex not to sell or distribute any such products to these facilities.  Athenex does not distribute these products through wholesalers unwilling to implement distribution control to prevent capital punishment.”

Arkansas Department of Correction Director Wendy Kelly obtained the midazolam supply by paying $250 cash from an unnamed source back on August 4th. Arkansas’s supply ran out earlier in the year after the state put to death four men in an 11-day span in April. It had intended to kill eight but courts intervened in the cases of four death row inmates.

KUAR asked ADC Director Kelly to explain why it’s ethical to circumvent the company’s rules governing its product disbursement. A spokesman said the department has no comment.