COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio may have a path to obtaining a long-sought lethal injection drug if the state can locate the proper ingredients, the prison system’s top lawyer said during a deposition in a legal challenge to Ohio’s proposed execution drugs.
The state has been unable to carry out executions on more than two dozen condemned killers because of court challenges to its proposed three-drug method, which includes midazolam, a sedative used in problematic executions in other states.
Governor John Kasich delayed executions once again in May, including that of Ronald Phillips, now scheduled to die in July for raping and killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993.
Stephen Gray’s deposition, taken last year and unsealed May 24, suggests Ohio may have a possible source of a barbiturate called pentobarbital through a compounding pharmacist. Gray said in the deposition that the pharmacist might be able to supply pentobarbital to the state.
Pentobarbital was Ohio’s preferred lethal drug until US supplies dried up, and obtaining supplies of pentobarbital could go a long way to breaking the legal deadlock over state executions. A single, lethal dose of pentobarbital was without problems in 10 Ohio executions from 2011 to 2013.
Compounding pharmacists typically mix small, specialty batches of drugs that aren’t subject to the same federal regulations as those mass-produced by drug makers.