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Discussion: What Happens If Missouri Uses Propofol In Executions As Planned?

(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)
This gurney is used to perform executions at a facility in Terre Haute, Ind. by lethal injection. A federal judge has rejected a challenge by Missouri prison inmates to the state's execution procedure.

Updated at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 9, to correct errors in our interview.

In the next two months, the state of Missouri plans to use the drug propofol to perform two executions, despite opposition from the European Union, the Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The primary manufacturer of the drug, German company Fresenius Kabi, also objects to its use in capital punishment, and has restricted sales to all but medical institutions. Despite warnings that access to the drug for use as anesthesia could be severely limited in the United States if the executions take place, Governor Nixon announced Friday that they would take place as planned.

St. Louis Public Radio science reporter Véronique LaCapra has been following the story, and St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh spoke with her to find out more about the likely consequences of going forward with the executions.


In our interview, we said that many states, including Missouri, have turned to propofol for use in executions. That is incorrect. Missouri would be the first state to use propofol for lethal injection if it goes ahead with its scheduled execution on October 23.

We also said that the German company that makes most of the propofol used in the U.S. is threatening to limit supplies. That is incorrect. In August 2012, Fresenius Kabi reduced the number of its U.S. propofol distributors to 14 and prohibited them from selling to departments of correction. However, the company has not limited exports of propofol to the U.S. for medical use.

It is correct that the European Union is considering restricting exports.

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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