Mon, Sep 07, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Ohio faces drug shortage as execution date nears


Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at a town-hall meeting in Hooksett, New Hampshire, on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Ohio now has two dozen condemned killers with dates set for execution, but with four months before the first one, it still does not have the drugs it needs to carry them out.

Death penalty advocates say the state needs to keep looking or find alternatives to provide justice for killings that are in some cases decades old.

The state’s inability to find drugs has opponents calling for the end of capital punishment there.

Like other states, Ohio has struggled to obtain drugs, as pharmaceutical companies discontinued the medications traditionally used by states or put them off limits for executions.

The state has not executed anyone since January last year, when condemned killer Dennis McGuire gasped and snorted repeatedly during a 26-minute procedure with a then untried two-drug method.

Ohio abandoned that method in favor of other drugs it now cannot find.

The state attempted to obtain a US federal import license to buy drugs from overseas, but ran into a roadblock when the US Food and Drug Administration said such actions are illegal because the drugs in question are not approved.

On Jan. 21, the state is scheduled to execute Ronald Phillips for raping and killing his girlfriend’s three-year-old daughter in 1993. The remaining executions are scheduled clear into 2019.

The state’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction “continues to seek all legal means to obtain the drugs necessary to carry out court-ordered executions,” spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

Governor John Kasich, a Republican candidate for president, said other states will not give Ohio their drugs, and lawsuits might tie up attempts to import approved drugs.

However, he said there is still time to arrange alternatives.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien would like Ohio to consider nitrogen gas, approved by Oklahoma in April as an execution alternative.

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