State Laws Contradict on Georgia Lethal Injection Secrecy Statute

Later this month the Supreme Court of Georgia will hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of a law that shields information about the manufacturer of the state’s execution drug.

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But as WABE’s Rose Scott reports, another law passed in 2013 may make that information public.

Last March lawmakers passed House Bill 122.

The legislation keeps confidential any information regarding a person or entity that participates in or administers an execution.

That includes identifying any person or entity that manufactures, supplies, compounds, or prescribes the execution drug.

Some U.S prisons are turning to compounding pharmacies to acquire the drug.

At the time, Governor Nathan Deal told WABE the law was necessary.

“It is such a scrutinized issue that for any pharmacy that provides any of the chemical makeups [you know] possibly could suffer other consequences by virtue of that and that’s the reason the identity was protected.”

A month later, Deal signed House Bill 209.

It revised guidelines and procedures for out of state pharmacists, pharmacies and compounding pharmacies to do business in Georgia.

For example, the law details the requirements needed to obtain a license to sell and ship drugs to Georgia.

That information would be public record.

Which poses this question, does House bill 209 contradict House bill 122?

WABE legal analyst Page Pate believes it does.

“I think there will be a conflict here, I don’t know if the general assembly recognizes this, but the out of state pharmacy will have to provide all types of information regarding its practices and what its bringing into the state.”

An out of state compounding pharmacy applying for a Georgia license would not necessarily be the supplier of the state’s execution drug.

But if it is, Pate says House Bill 209 offers no protection.

“There is nothing in this particular law that shields a compounding pharmacy from these requirements simply because they’re supplying a drug that’s used in connection with executions.”

The state pharmacy board hasn’t setup the actual process for non-resident pharmacies to obtain a license.

So for now, according to the Georgia Department of Community Health, out of state pharmacies can do business in Georgia, because the law is allowing a grace period.

As for when the process will be in place, state officials say the Georgia Board of Pharmacy is looking toward May, but it depends on when rules are finalized. 

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