Last week the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, announced it was prohibiting the use of its chemicals as execution drugs. It thus brought the US death penalty to a new juncture. As the human rights organisation, Reprieve, commented:
“This is a critical turning point in the history of capital punishment in America. From today, all FDA-approved manufacturers of all potential execution drugs – a diverse group of 25 global companies – have blocked their sale for use in executions.”
States that cling to the death penalty, as Ohio does, are now limited to the shadowy world of unregulated compounding pharmacies or overseas-based straw companies for their attempts to procure execution drugs. But their deadly intent is likely to be restrained by the increasing risk to them of intense scrutiny and legal action. Even though Ohio has passed a secrecy law, designed to protect compounding pharmacies from reprisal, pharmacists have as yet been unwilling to act against the advice of their professional organizations.
Some states have legalized different execution methods e.g. the firing squad, gas chamber or electric chair. But in Ohio Governor Kasich has ruled out using alternatives to lethal injections.
So for the foreseeable future Jeffrey Wogenstahl and the other inmates of Ohio’s death row are safe from execution. We welcome this news.