Georgia Department of Corrections Using Compounding Pharmacy for Execution Drug

Credit Lansing Legal Examiner

A new Georgia law protects the identity of the manufacturer or supplier of the state’s lethal injection drug, Pentobarbital.

It’s become difficult for many states to acquire the drug because some pharmaceutical companies that oppose the death penalty and have refused to sell to U.S prisons.

Georgia’s Department of Corrections will use a compounding pharmacy for the scheduled upcoming execution of death row inmate Warren Lee Hill, Jr.

In documents WABE obtained thru open records request, a drug prescription for Hill was sent to a compounding pharmacy.

In an email dated July 9th, an unknown sender wrote the following to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

“Below I have provided how the prescription should be written.”

The document also includes Hill’s social security number and date of birth.

The prescription calls for 6 syringes of Pentobarbital, each containing 50 ml of the drug.

Some of the information has been redacted to protect the identity of the pharmacy.

After reviewing the documents from the department of corrections, WABE legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Page Pate says keeping the pharmacy a secret is troubling.

“And that’s the thing that makes me really concerned about the constitutionality of this new statute. I mean you cannot prevent a court, ultimately a court, from compelling disclosure of this type of information because if you do have a legitimate challenge to the method of execution, you gotta know the details of it.”

Compounding pharmacies are licensed and regulated by state boards of pharmacies.

Also, the FDA has no jurisdiction over regulating compounding pharmacies.

However, there is a Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board, but pharmacies are not required to obtain an accrediting rating from the organization.

In Georgia, there are three that are accredited under Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board.

Georgia department of corrections spokesperson Gwendolyn Hogan would not say whether or not its supplier was one of the three.

Hogan said that information was protected by the state’s new law.

When asked when the six vials (50 ml each) of Pentobarbital would arrive, Hogan said for security reasons that information could not be revealed.

The traditional practice of compound pharmacies is making customized medication for specific patients.

For example, drugs for kids may require a special combination due to a specific dosage needed.