PPI friend Kelsey Kauffman urges American Pharmacist Association to reject lethal injection

Think Progress covers the push for the APA to recognize that pharmacists have a moral imperative to refuse to participate in the state-sanctioned administration of death.

by Leah Sakala, April 14, 2014

Our friend and colleague Kelsey Kauffman is urging the American Pharmacist Association to join virtually all other leading medical associations in declaring that the Hippocratic Oath bars medical professionals from participating in executions. As Tara Culp-Ressler reported in Think Progress:

States are turning to so-called “compounding pharmacies” — facilities that are outside of the regulatory scope of the Food and Drug Administration — to get the ingredients they need for untested cocktails like the one that killed McGuire. Compounding pharmacies, which repackage drugs to keep down the cost of filling prescriptions, are already controversial from a public health perspective. For instance, in 2012, a compounding pharmacy was identified as the source of a deadly meningitis outbreak that killed 36 people. Since then, Congress has worked to crack down on these unregulated facilities, although some public health advocates don’t believe the recent legislative push goes far enough.

Some compounding pharmacies have agreed to manufacture the drugs that states need to kill people, but state officials won’t always reveal the details. States like Oklahoma and Missouri claim that publicizing where they’re getting their lethal drugs will result in too much public pressure on the compounding pharmacies to stop producing them. So the methods they’re using for executions are increasingly kept secret, and it’s not entirely clear whether they’re violating the Constitution’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Kauffman hopes that, if the American Pharmacist Association adopts a new policy position that forbids pharmacists from assisting in executions, this will all become moot because the employees at compounding facilities won’t be able to continue supplying these drugs. And, after attending APhA’s annual meeting at the end of last month, Kauffman believes senior officials in the pharmaceutical industry are receptive.

“I look at the American Pharmacist Association as a partner in this process, and when it comes to almost all of the pharmacists I spoke to, I see them as future allies,” she said, pointing out that medical professionals don’t have to be personally opposed to the death penalty to agree that it’s against their code of ethics to participate in them.

Kelsey is working with corporate accountability organization SumOfUs on a petition collecting 50,000 signatures to urge the American Pharmacists Association to ban its members “from participating in executions in any way.” Please sign if you haven’t already!

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