Oklahoma pharmacy won’t provide drug for Missouri execution

An Oklahoma pharmacy has agreed not to provide Missouri with a made-to-order drug for an inmate’s execution scheduled for this month, according to court documents filed Monday.

According to the documents, The Apothecary Shoppe of Tulsa will not prepare or provide pentobarbital or any other drug for use in the execution of Michael Taylor, who is on death row for kidnapping, raping and murdering Ann Harrison, a 15-year-old southeast Kansas City girl who was snatched at a school bus stop 25 years ago.

Taylor’s attorney, Matt Hellman, said that as part of the deal the pharmacy acknowledged it had not already provided any drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections for the execution, which is scheduled for Feb. 26.

The documents ask a judge to dismiss the case that Taylor’s lawyers had filed against the pharmacy seeking to stop it from providing the execution drug. A hearing is scheduled for today.

The Missouri Department of Corrections, Gov. Jay Nixon’s office and the attorney general’s office did not return calls Monday night seeking comment about the agreement or the status of Taylor’s execution.

Nixon indicated last week, however, that the state has drugs to carry out Taylor’s execution.

Nixon, speaking at a news conference Thursday, did not directly answer yes or no when asked about availability of the execution drug but said: “In order to complete that ultimate responsibility, that’s necessary. The Department of Corrections is prepared to carry out that execution.”

The Apothecary Shoppe has not acknowledged that it supplies a compounded version of pentobarbital to Missouri for use in lethal injections, as Taylor says, adding it can’t do so because of a Missouri law requiring the identities of those on the state’s execution team to be kept confidential.

A message left seeking comment from the pharmacy Monday night was not returned.

In his lawsuit, Taylor alleged that Missouri turned to The Apothecary Shoppe to supply compounded pentobarbital because the only licensed manufacturer of the drug refuses to provide it for lethal injections. That company, Illinois-based Akorn Inc., agreed to that condition when it bought exclusive rights to the drug in January 2012 from a Danish company that had produced it under the trade name Nembutal.

Taylor contends that several recent executions in which compounded pentobarbital was used showed it would likely cause him “severe, unnecessary, lingering and ultimately inhumane pain.”

Within 20 seconds of receiving his lethal injection Jan. 9 at Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Michael Lee Wilson, 38, said, “I feel my whole body burning.”

This statement describes “a sensation consistent with receipt of contaminated pentobarbital,” Taylor alleges.

The lawsuit also cites the Oct. 15, 2012, execution in South Dakota of Eric Robert.

Robert, 50 cleared his throat, gasped for air and then snored after receiving the lethal injection, which included compounded pentobarbital. His skin turned a purplish hue, and his heart continued to beat for 10 minutes after he stopped breathing, the lawsuit contends. It took 20 minutes for authorities to finally declare Robert dead.

“These events are consistent with receipt of a contaminated or subpotent compounded drug,” the lawsuit says.

Taylor’s lawsuit questions whether the Tulsa pharmacy can legally produce and deliver compounded pentobarbital. It says the pharmacy is not registered as a drug manufacturer with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and alleges that it violates federal law each time it delivers the drug across state lines to Missouri corrections officials.

Ann Harrison was kidnapped March 22, 1989, while waiting for a school bus. She was raped and stabbed several times. Her body was found the next night in the trunk of a stolen car.

Taylor and Roderick Nunley admitted to police that they took part in the crime, but each said the other was the primary aggressor. Nunley also is on death row.