Two companies ask judge to block Arkansas from using its lethal injection drugs

Cummins Unit is where seven Arkansas inmates are scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection within a 10-day span in late April.
(Gareth Patterson / For The Times)
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Two pharmaceutical companies are asking a federal judge to prevent Arkansas from using their drugs in the planned execution of seven death row inmates later this month.

Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. were granted permission Thursday to file a friend of the court brief in a lawsuit filed by the inmates aimed at halting the executions.

Fresenius Kabi said it appears the potassium chloride Arkansas plans to use in its three-drug protocol was manufactured by the company and may have been acquired improperly. The state announced last month it had obtained a new supply of the drug, but state law keeps the source of it secret. West-Ward had previously been identified by the Associated Press as the state’s likely manufacturer of midazolam, which expires at the end of the month.


Meanwhile, an Arkansas judge says she won’t stay the execution of one of the first inmates facing lethal injection under the state’s plan to put seven men to death by the end of the month.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis rejected the request Thursday to halt the execution of Bruce Ward, saying she doesn’t have the authority to issue a stay. Ward and another inmate, Don Davis, are scheduled to be executed Monday night.

Ward’s attorneys have argued the convicted murderer is a diagnosed schizophrenic with no rational understanding of his impending execution.

Their lawsuit is among a flurry of legal challenges aimed at halting the upcoming executions. Arkansas scheduled the executions to occur before the state’s supply of a lethal injection drug expires at the end of April.


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