Drugs Used in Executions Needed for COVID-19 Treatment


In an open letter from nine prominent public health professionals released on April 10, 2020, medical experts are asking corrections officials in death penalty states to turn over stockpiles of their execution drugs to hospitals so they can be used to treat COVID-19 patients. The experts explain that the execution drugs midazolam (a sedative), vecuronium bromide (a paralytic), rocuronium bromide (a paralytic) and fentanyl (an opioid pain reliever) are in short supply and are needed to facilitate intubation and ventilation of coronavirus patients. 

State practices prevent health professionals from determining the full extent to which hoarding of these drugs for execution purposes is impeding the medical response to COVID-19.  It is estimated, however, that Florida's supply of rocuronium bromide could intubate 100 patients. Dr. Joel Zivot, an Emory University anesthesiologist and a signer of the letter, stated, "None of these medicines were designed for execution. Stockpiling drugs intended to save lives in order to kill people was never acceptable, but that is especially the case when it is actually harming the public in the face of the coronavirus." 

April 27, 2020 - 9:01am

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