LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The three drugs Arkansas plans to use to execute eight inmates meet federal potency and purity requirements, according to a laboratory hired by the Arkansas Department of Correction.
Attorneys for the Arkansas attorney general's office submitted an affidavit Wednesday showing the Correction Department had hired a Food and Drug Administration-certified pharmaceutical testing laboratory to make sure the drugs meet those federal standards. The name and address of the company were redacted, but the test results were included with the affidavit submitted in an ongoing lawsuit by several death row inmates.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has put those executions on hold pending the resolution of the inmates' challenge.
"The test results confirm that the contents of the vials match FDA-approved labelling and demonstrate that all three drugs meet applicable potency requirements," Department of Correction Deputy Director Rory Griffin wrote in the affidavit.
The state obtained the midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride last year. Under the state's new execution secrecy law, the Department of Correction has withheld the manufacturer and distributor of those drugs as well as other information.
Questions were raised about the sedative midazolam after inmates gasped and groaned during longer-than-expected executions in Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona.
Attorney Jeff Rosenzweig, who represents the inmates, declined to comment on the affidavit Wednesday.
The inmates say the state's secrecy law is unconstitutional and they want information on the drugs' makers and suppliers to determine whether they could lead to cruel and unusual punishment. They also argue that the secrecy law violates a settlement in an earlier lawsuit that guaranteed inmates would be given the information, but the state has said the agreement is not a binding contract.
Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen ordered the state to turn over the names of the suppliers and other identifying information to the inmates and court earlier this year. The state has asked for a protective order so that the information can be kept secret, or only released to the inmates' attorneys.
Both parties have asked Griffen to rule on the merits of their requests for summary judgment in the lawsuit before ruling on whether to issue the protective order.