An American pharmaceutical company filed a lawsuit blocking Nevada’s scheduled execution of Scott Dozier on Wednesday. New Jersey-based Alvogen said the state had “illegitimately acquired” its product, midazolam, to use as one of the drugs in its new, untested, three-drug lethal injection cocktail.
“Past attempts by other states to use the medicine in lethal injections have been extremely controversial, and have led to widespread concern that prisoners have been exposed to cruel and unusual treatment. Several attempts have been characterized as ‘botched’ executions,” the lawsuit stated.
The company said if the state was allowed to proceed it would cause Alvogen “immediate and irreparable harm.”
A district court judge then issued a temporary restraining order halting the execution. It is the first time a pharmaceutical company has successfully blocked an execution, and as the New York Times noted, “It is likely to intensify the battle between officials in death penalty states and drugmakers that object to their products being used to kill inmates.”
“This ruling affirms that the makers of medicines have a right to decide how their products are used. Healthcare companies make drugs to save lives, not to end them in experimental executions,” the London-based human rights organization, Reprieve, said in a statement on its website.
The two other drugs, besides midazolam, a sedative, that Nevada planned to use to execute Dozier were fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, and cisatracurium besylate, a paralytic. The manufacturer of the latter, Sandoz, also objected to its use in the execution, but didn’t file a lawsuit.
The 47-year-old Dozier voluntarily waived his appeals in 2016, saying he would rather be executed than continue living on death row. He was sentenced to death in 2007 for the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller during a drug deal in Las Vegas. That arrest led to his conviction for a previous murder in Arizona in 2001 of Jasen Green, for which he was sentenced to 22 years.
If Dozier had been executed on Wednesday, it would have been the first execution in Nevada since 2006.