Pharmacy Owner Having Second Thoughts About Being Texas' Only Supplier of Execution Drug

Death row inmate Michael Yowell's last-minute, Hail Mary lawsuit, based on the claim that the state was going to experiment on him with untested execution drugs, failed to sway U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes. In an order handed down Saturday, he dismissed that as "a guess piled on an assumption" and ruled that the custom-mixed dose of pentobarbital would be just as ruthlessly lethal as the stuff pharmaceutical companies had stopped supplying for executions.

And, just so we're clear, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has plenty of the drug. It ordered enough pentobarbital from a Texas compounding pharmacy "to carry out all currently scheduled executions" in the words of TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark.

Clark didn't name the pharmacy, but the Associated Press did. The wire service reported that the state had ordered eight 2.5-gram vials of pentobarbital from The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy outside of Houston.

See also: Texas, Fresh Out of Pentobarbital, Begins Experimenting With Execution Drugs

Pharmacy owner Dr. Jasper Lovoi, who quickly realized why drug makers are so hesitant to supply execution drugs, was livid.

"[I]t was my belief that this information would be kept on the 'down low,'" he wrote, "and that it was unlikely that it would be discovered that my pharmacy provided these drugs." Despite repeated assurances of secrecy from the state, "I find myself in the middle of a firestorm I was not advised of and did not bargain for."

Long story short, Lovoi is having seller's remorse and wants TDCJ to return the pentobartbital he sold it.

"I, and my staff, are very busy operating our pharmacy, and do not have the time to deal with the constant inquiries from the press, the hate mail and messages...Please contact me immediately to arrange for the return of the drugs."

See also: Texas Executes Prisoners Like Dogs Now. And (If We're Going to Kill Them Anyway) That's A Good Thing

Lovoi would have been wise to consider those consequences beforehand, since there's no way in hell Texas is letting go of an execution drug that's become increasingly scarce as suppliers recognize that providing drugs for the express purpose of killing people is bad PR.

The TDCJ said as much to the Texas Tribune.

'The drugs were purchased legally by the agency," spokesman Jason Clark said. "TDCJ has no intention of returning the pentobarbital."

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson