The Missouri Department of Corrections announced today in an e-mailed statement that it has adopted a new one-drug execution protocol, using pentobarbital, which will be administered intravenously. This replaces propofol, which the department had intended to use in future executions. The change became necessary due to concerns about the use of propofol for this purpose.
The department also announced that it has added a compounding pharmacy to its execution team. The compounding pharmacy will be responsible for providing pentobarbital for executions carried out under the new protocol.
The next execution in Missouri — that of offender Joseph Paul Franklin — is scheduled for Nov. 20. Franklin was sentenced to death for the October 1977 murder of Gerald Gordon in St. Louis. Franklin has been convicted of several racially motivated killings in other states. While Franklin will be executed for his crimes in Missouri, he also was convicted for the murder of two African-Americans in Utah, the murder of an interracial couple in Wisconsin, and the bombing of a synagogue in Tennessee. He shot his Missouri victim in 1977 after staking out at a Jewish synagogue. He also claims to have been the man who shot Hustler owner Larry Flynt because he staged interracial sexual relations in his magazine.
Calls to Corrections have not yet been returned.
Inmate Allen Nicklasson was to be executed tomorrow night — Oct. 23 — but his lawyer says the department has changed the execution protocol three times in 16 months, twice in the last two months, and called using propofol (the drug that killed Michael Jackson), “little more than experimentation.” A Columbia University anesthesiologist called the process “fundamentally flawed.”
Concerns about the use of Propofol prompted the Corrections Department to return its supply of the drug, and Gov. Jay Nixon to cancel Nicklasson’s execution.
Fresenius Kabi, the drug manufacturer, responded with a statement: “We are very pleased Governor Nixon has recognized the risk that using Propofol in executions could lead to a shortage of this critical drug and has directed the Missouri Department of Corrections to return Fresenius Kabi’s Propofol so it is not used in any executions. However, we remain very concerned that use of Propofol – even domestically produced Propofol – in any executions would still lead to a severe shortage of Propofol in the United States. EU regulations do not make a distinction on the source of a drug as export sanctions or bans are considered. We continue to communicate with concerned stakeholders, U.S. state, federal and EU officials to ensure that Propofol is used only for its intended therapeutic purposes.”
Missouri’s last execution was that of Martin Link on February 9, 2011. Nicklasson’s co-defendant, Dennis Skillicorn, was executed May 25, 2009. They are the only executions the state has carried out since 2005. Executions are carried out at the state prison in Bonne Terre.
For more background on Franklin, visit Missouri Death Row.