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Attorney Claims Oklahoma’s Execution Drug “Excruciatingly Painful”

OKLAHOMA – Execution proceedings are set for 6 p.m. Thursday for a convicted killer, 52-year-old Kenneth Hogan, who was sentenced to death for the 1988 stabbing of a Oklahoma City woman.

She was stabbed more than 25 times.

Officials in McAlester are injecting Hogan with the execution drug “pentobarbital.”
The drug is at the center of a controversial fire storm – one attorney argues it’s a cruel method for death row inmates.

The controversy began when a death row inmate uttered surprising last words.

Earlier this month, after convicted murderer Michael Wilson was given a lethal injection of pentobarbital, he reportedly said he felt his “whole body burning.”

Now an attorney for a Missouri death row inmate wants that drug recalled – it’s scheduled to be used on her client next week.

Cheryl Pilate with Morgan Pilate LLC in Kansas City has filed a complaint with the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy.

It says the pentobarbital that was made at a compounding pharmacy in Oklahoma and sent to the Missouri Department of Corrections “…is being improperly stored at room temperature for at least 15 days prior to its intended use.”

It says “…recent evidence shows that the compounded pentobarbital is expired” and adds “these hazards create the danger that an execution carried out with the drug will be excruciatingly painful.”

Regarding Wilson’s “whole body burning” comment, Richard Dieter, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington D.C., says it may be a legitimate complaint.

“That’s a sign that maybe the drug was not 100 percent effective,” he said Thursday.
Dieter says pentobarbital does take a few minutes longer to kill inmates than previous execution drugs.

He says there were 60 people accidentally killed in 2012 from drugs made at compounding pharmacies.

“So I think the system, Oklahoma and many states, are going to have to review where they’re getting these drugs from,” Dieter said.  “How reliable (are they)?  Are they pure?  Are they fully licensed and inspected?”

The Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy’s Executive Director, John A. Foust, said they don’t have authority to require a recall from pharmacies, and he doesn’t remember a previous complaint about an execution drug.

Compounding pharmacies, Foust said, are often not subject to the FDA’s rules.
A spokesperson with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office said of the use of pentobarbital – “yes, we are in compliance with the law.”

“In the right hands, I think it works,” Dieter said.

Foust said the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy will investigate this complaint.