Missouri's Attorney General called on the state's Supreme Court to set execution dates for two murderers before the state's supply of its new execution drug, propofol, expires, according to a Monday press release.While in general you are not supposed to use expired drugs to kill people, even infamous murderers, the broader issue here is that the companies that make propofol are not keen on having the drug used to carry to out executions—so Missouri will probably not be able to acquire more. Other drug manufacturers have also refused use of their products for executions (it is not, in general, good brand placement), which is why Missouri had made the somewhat eyebrow-raising move to propofol to begin with. They have, however, found themselves blocked by the courts, as there is some question as to efficacy of the drug for the task. The drug has never before been used in an execution, and administering the drug in a lethal dosage can be tricky. Compounding the possibility of botched executions with the new drug: Missouri law dispenses with the requirement that a physician be present for the execution, allowing the injection to be done by a nurse or EMT.
It's not entirely clear why the attorney general is so keen on using this particular drug for these particular executions. Since the manufacturers are refusing to sell the drug as a capital punishment tool, Missouri is obligated to change its method of execution regardless; the AG's insistence that not using the drug in these cases will cost the state money by requiring it to develop alternatives seems a red herring. If Missouri is so concerned about having to throw out their several vials of the stuff, they could just give it to Texas; Perry seems to be presiding over an execution there every other week, and they don't let anyone's silly notions of due process get in the way.
I must confess I find it a bit fascinating that the death penalty, which has lasted so very long in this country despite being generally deplored by most other modern nations, is finding a formidable opponent in pharmaceutical company branding needs. Appealing to the fiscal prudence of not executing people, appealing to the obvious incongruity between condemning killings and giddily applauding the same, pointing out the seemingly alarming rates of prosecutorial misconduct and outright errors—none of that has had much effect. But having corporate brand managers miffed at being associated with the thing, now that's put some real gum in the works. Truly, a fine symbol of who really wears the pants in our democracy.