Certain Death Penalty Drugs Can Help COVID-19 Patients—But Some States Aren’t Turning Them Over



TOPLINE

Certain paralytics and sedatives used during lethal injection can immobilize and sedate COVID-19 patients who need ventilators, but some states that allow the death penalty are not sharing any information about their stockpiles, perhaps because many pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to provide drugs for executions.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 21: A medical worker at Elmhurst Hospital is seen on April 21, 2020 in the … [+] Queens borough of New York City. Coronavirus (COVID-19) statistics continue to trend downward in the tri-state region, but New York City has surpassed 132,000 cases since the outbreak. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

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KEY FACTS

Earlier this month, a group of healthcare officials and experts wrote an open letter to state correctional facility officials asking them to divert these medicines to hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

According to the Associated Press, Arkansas, Texas, Utah and Wyoming claimed not to have the drugs, while Alabama and Florida did not respond.

Public records, which offer limited information about execution stockpiles, indicate that Florida, Nevada and Tennessee have at least enough medicine to treat 137 patients, according to the Hill, while Oklahoma’s supply is unknown.

While these drugs may only alleviate “a small fraction of the total anticipated deaths,” the letter argues, attempting to save each life “it is a central ethical directive.”

And, as Slate notes, the emergency drug shortage is so dire that the Drug Enforcement Administration recently eased restrictions on production and importation.

In the past nine years, 13 states have implemented laws that conceal information about the execution process, according to the nonpartisan Death Penalty Information Center.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“At this crucial moment for our country, we must prioritize the needs and lives of patients above ending the lives of prisoners,” the open letter concludes.

BIG NUMBER

25. That’s how many states allow the death penalty. Three others—Califonia, Oregon and Pennsylvania—have governor-induced moratoriums on the practice.

FURTHER READING 

Doctors: Execution drugs could help COVID-19 patients (The Associated Press)

Doctors Ask For Death Penalty Drugs To Treat Covid-19 Patients (The Hill)

Death Penalty States Won’t Turn Over Scarce COVID-19 Drugs (Slate)

Coronavirus Drug Update: The Latest Info On Pharmaceutical Treatments And Vaccines (Forbes)

Gilead Stock Jumps 8% After Coronavirus Drug Remdesivir Shows ‘Rapid Recoveries’ In Clinical Trials (Forbes)

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