Company Disavows Use of Its Drug in Nevada Execution

(CN) — Pharmaceutical company Alvogen sued the state of Nevada and the Department of Corrections Tuesday over claims it acquired the drug midazolam under false pretenses to use in the upcoming execution of convicted murderer Scott Raymond Dozier.

Alvogen specifically prohibited the use of midazolam in executions, even sending the Nevada Department of Corrections letters in April explicitly stating just that, according to its lawsuit filed in Clark County state court. But Alvogen says NDOC bought the drug in June through a third party, Cardinal Health, and had it shipped to the prison’s pharmacy to avoid suspicion.

Alvogen only found out that its midazolam would be used for an execution after the press contacted the company on July 7.

“While Alvogen takes no position on the death penalty itself, Alvogen’s products were developed to save and improve patients’ lives and their use in executions is fundamentally contrary to this purpose,” the lawsuit states.

Alvogen says it worries that the usage of midazolam in executions will attach a permanent stigma to the drug company.

The 25-page suit also calls for NDOC to return the drugs it obtained –a total of 90 vials – “because the NDOC intends to use Alvogen’s property for the administration of capital punishment…in violation of (Alvogen’s) policies and agreements between (Alvogen) and its distributors.”

As of this writing, NDOC intends to proceed with the execution on Wednesday. Dozier will receive a three-drug cocktail including midazolam, a hydrochloride injection commonly used in general anesthesia.

Alvogen has been outspoken about its disapproval of correctional facilities using its product in executions, arguing that midazolam’s ability to render a prisoner unconscious before stopping his heart is unpredictable.

The suit names two high-profile cases in which midazolam was used, both of which resulted in botched jobs that did anything but provide a quick and painless death.

In 2014, Oklahoma prison officials gave Clayton Lockett 100mg of the drug, but they “reportedly cancelled the execution and discussed taking him to the hospital” before pronouncing him dead of a heart attack 40 minutes later.

Two other executions that used midazolam resulted in the prisoners gasping, snorting, convulsing, and struggling for breath – in one case for up to two hours – before dying, according to the lawsuit.

James Pisanelli represents Alvogen with Latham Watkins. Alvogen’s attorneys declined to comment further on the case.

The Public Information Officer for the Nevada Department of Corrections at Ely State Prison also declined to comment.

Scott Raymond Dozier’s execution is set for July 11 at 8 p.m. at Ely State Prison in Nevada.


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