Another execution by experimental drug cocktail goes horribly wrong


An execution in Arizona turned torturous yesterday, with convicted murderer Joseph Wood taking almost two hours to die after he was injected with a secret mixture of drugs.

This is just another case in a long-running issue. The European drug manufacturers that make the key drug that used to be used for lethal injection now refuse to sell it to the US, in protest against death penalty laws. The American companies that used to make the drug stopped making it. That all happened in 2011 and now states that want to keep executing people are turning to proprietary cocktails of drugs that have not been tested (on animals) or approved by public oversight systems and are, in many cases, secret.

The botched execution in Oklahoma last April was done with a cocktail like this, as well. Here's Vox's German Lopez and Max Fisher:

Arizona's case is far from unique. A staggering 7 percent of lethal injections are botched, often resulting in grisly incidents like that on Wednesday afternoon.

Joseph Wood, a convicted murderer, took nearly two hours to die after he was injected with an experimental chemical cocktail that was supposed to kill him quickly and painlessly. More than an hour after the execution started, Wood's lawyers filed for an emergency stay after it became clear it was not going as planned.

For reference, here's some links to recent BoingBoing posts on this issue:

• More on the European drug manufacturers and their protest of the American penal system.

• Efforts by Alabama to make the manufacturers and the contents of their lethal injection cocktails a state secret.

Two stories on the death and autopsy of Clayton Lockett, the convicted murderer who died in a botched execution in Oklahoma back in April.

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