Inmate to be executed using new, controversial drug combination

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However, a pharmaceutical company filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Nevada State Department of Corrections over plans to use one of its drugs, midazolam, in the execution.

Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid at the heart of the U.S. opioid epidemic, has never been used in an execution before, but it is midazolam at the centre of Alvogen's last-minute lawsuit.

Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez of the Eight Judicial District Court issued a temporary restraining order halting the use of the drug after the company said Nevada obtained it through "subterfuge".

"While Alvogen takes no position on the death penalty itself, Alvogen's products were developed to save and improve patients' lives and their use in executions is fundamentally contrary to this objective", Alovgen lawyers wrote. Dozier has said repeatedly he wants to die. Under Nevada's new execution protocol, the inmate is next given fentanyl and then cisatracurium, one to slow his breathing, the other to stop it.

A third company, Pfizer, past year demanded Nevada return the third drug intended for use in the execution, the powerful opioid fentanyl.

He said Alvogen had sent a letter to state officials in April telling them it opposes the use of its products in executions, particularly midazolam.

Assistant Solicitor General Jordan Smith, who represents the prison system, is expected to argue via video conference from Ely at Wednesday's hearing.


Cardinal Health did not immediately respond to phone or email requests for comment.

The health care supply company McKesson filed a similar lawsuit in Arkansas previous year, but that challenge was rejected.

Death penalty states have been forced to find different cocktails of drugs for executions in the face of opposition from manufacturers to having their medicines used in lethal injections.

"It has been at the centre of executions that have gone visibly wrong in every single state in which it has been used", said Maya Foa, the director of the ant-death penalty group Reprieve.

Alvogen, the pharmaceutical company, said in a statement that it "does not condone the use of any of its drug products, including midazolam, for use in state sponsored executions".

While some other states have turned to comparatively unknown chemicals, Nevada's plan stood out for relying on fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller that has helped fuel the country's ongoing opioid epidemic.

Scott Raymond Dozier's execution had been scheduled to take place Wednesday evening. Corrections spokeswoman Brooke Santina said the execution would remain effectively postponed for at least that long. That drug has become controversial for its use in executions, and Alvogen highlighted some of those incidents in court, including the bungled 2014 Oklahoma execution that saw an inmate grimace and kick, an Arizona execution that same year that took almost two hours and the 2016 Alabama execution that had witnesses recounting that the inmate coughed and heaved. Her ruling: "The state is restrained and enjoined from using midazolam".


In 2005, police found the grave of another victim, 26-year-old Jasen Greene, who Dozier had shot and killed.

"Not one response was received", according to a 2016 report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In 2014, an inmate in OH and another one in Arizona were left gasping and snorting before they died in what death penalty foes called botched executions.

There was a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison, Dozier said in court hearings and letters past year, according to ABC News in the US.

In the November case, Dozier was sentenced to die for robbing, killing and dismembering 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller at the iconic (and now demolished) La Concha motel on the Las Vegas Strip.

Question marks remain as to whether drug firms can demand their products are not used in executions if states have managed to obtain them. Miller's torso was later found in a suitcase in a trash bin, local media reported.

Scott Dozier, 47, convicted of two murders in 2001 and 2007, gave up his appeals and asked to be executed, reports Efe news.

Dozier, a former stripper and ice dealer, has said he doesn't care if the deadly combination of three drugs hurts, he just wants to die.


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