Executions need executioners. One of the challenges to the lethal injection method of execution in the United States involves the drugs used in the process, and we post about those controversies (and the arguments being made in various courts) regularly.
However, another serious concern regarding injecting drugs into a human being in order to carry out a sentence of death involves who acts as executioner.
Doctors and Pharmacists
Doctors take an oath dedicating themselves to saving lives, not ending them. Physicians are vocal about their opposition to participating in executions involving lethal injections.
Which means it has been difficult finding people to do the job, and in some executions pharmacists have been the solution to the problem of finding an execution to inject the drug cocktail (or the single drug) used for capital punishment in that state.
Recently, the national organization that represents pharmacists came out officially against participating in executions involving lethal injections.
It doesn’t stop an individual pharmacist from participating, but it sure does discourage it.
Their press release:
APhA House of Delegates Adopts Policy Discouraging Pharmacist Participation in Execution
March 30, 2015
"The American Pharmacists Association discourages pharmacist participation in executions on the basis that such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care.”
WASHINGTON, DC – The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) House of Delegates today voted to adopt a policy discouraging pharmacist participation in executions. The House of Delegates met as part of the 2015 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition, APhA2015, in San Diego.
The policy states: “The American Pharmacists Association discourages pharmacist participation in executions on the basis that such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care.”
APhA Executive Vice President and CEO, Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, stated, “Pharmacists are health care providers and pharmacist participation in executions conflicts with the profession’s role on the patient health care team. This new policy aligns APhA with the execution policies of other major health care associations including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Board of Anesthesiology.
This new policy statement joins two policies previously adopted by the APhA House of Delegates:
Pharmacist Involvement in Execution by Lethal Injection (2004, 1985)
1. APhA opposes the use of the term "drug" for chemicals when used in lethal injections.
2. APhA opposes laws and regulations which mandate or prohibit the participation of pharmacists in the process of execution by lethal injection.