Pharmaceutical company asks for stay in Nevada execution

Death row inmate Scott Dozier appears before Judge Jennifer Togliatti during a hearing about his execution at the Regional Justice Center on Monday Sept. 11 2017 in downtown Las Vegas. Richard

Death row inmate Scott Dozier appears before Judge Jennifer Togliatti during a hearing about his execution at the Regional Justice Center on Monday Sept. 11 2017 in downtown Las Vegas. Richard

A Nevada judge halted the execution of a twice-convicted murderer on Wednesday after a pharmaceutical company filed a lawsuit seeking to block the use of one of its drugs in the execution, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

"Midazolam is not approved for use in such an application", according to the lawsuit.

"You got something that's killing hundreds of people a day across the United States, and you got prisons who can't get death penalty drugs, so they're turning to the drug that's killing hundreds of people across the United States", he said.

The sedative is expected to render Dozier unconscious before he is injected with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, which has been blamed for overdoses nationwide but has not been used in an execution.

Especially concerning is the fact that the fentanyl will be mixed with midazolam, which "has been at the center of executions that have gone visibly wrong in every single state in which it has been used", says Maya Foa of anti-death penalty group Reprieve.

The psychologist diagnosed Dozier with anti-social personality disorder with narcissistic traits.

The condemned man was sentenced to death in 2007 for a first-degree murder conviction in Nevada following a previous second-degree murder conviction in Arizona.

The execution plan for Dozier was revised last month to substitute midazolam for expired prison stocks of diazepam, a sedative commonly known as Valium that the state previously slated as the first drug in the lethal injection protocol.

The state Supreme Court later overruled that decision.

In 2005, Dozier was sentenced to 22 years in prison for shooting to death another drug-trade associate, whose body was found in 2002 in a shallow grave outside Phoenix. A witness there testified that Dozier used a sledgehammer to break Greene's limbs so the corpse would fit in a plastic tote that Dozier used to transport methamphetamine, equipment and chemicals.

Dozier's execution would have been the first in Nevada since 2006, according to the AP.

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The lawsuit names the director of Nevada's department of corrections, James Dzurenda, and the state's chief medical officer, Dr Ihsan Azzam, as conspiring to buy the midazolam along with an unidentified doctor who will participate in the execution. His head was never found.

"It is deeply troubling that Nevada government officials are barreling ahead with execution when the chances of torturing Dozier are so high". But Dozier has waved appeals and said he wants to die so the combination of medicines to be used to kill him has not been examined in court. Dozier has not responded to messages through his lawyers to speak with The Associated Press.

He did, however, let federal public defenders review and challenge the execution protocol drawn up a year ago by state medical and prison officials.

Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid at the heart of the U.S. opioid epidemic, has never been used in an execution before, but it is midazolam at the centre of Alvogen's last-minute lawsuit.

They argued that the untried three-drug combination would be less humane than putting down a pet.

New Jersey-based Alvogen had urged the judge to block the use of its sedative midazolam, saying that Nevada illegally obtained the product through "subterfuge" and meant to use it for unapproved purposes.

The Nevada authorities refused to make public how they obtained the fentanyl and other drugs, but last week the ACLU won a court ruling forcing the department of corrections to hand over invoices.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the state of Nevada; the Nevada Department of Corrections, its director and medical examiner; and the execution's attending physician, who has not been identified.

"Using fentanyl in an execution is particularly unusual and confusing because of its place in the opioid epidemic", said the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Nevada, Amy Rose.

The drug was used in the execution of Joseph Wood in 2014, who took almost two hours to die, and led Arizona to stop using midazolam. In 2014, an inmate in OH and another one in Arizona were left gasping and snorting before they died in what death penalty foes called botched executions.

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