Hospital Says It Was Tricked Into Selling Drugs for an Execution

When Louisiana ran out of lethal injection drugs this year, officials announced the state would switch to a new two-drug cocktail. But what they apparently failed to disclose was that the new drugs had been purchased from a hospital that thought it was healing prison hospital patients.

According to the Lens, a New Orleans investigative nonprofit, the Louisiana Department of Corrections purchased 20 vials of hydromorphone from Lake Charles Memorial Hospital a week before the scheduled execution of Christopher Sepulvado.

Christopher Sepulvado, 70, was convicted of torturing and murdering his six-year-old stepson in 1992. Despite several successful challenges by his attorneys, Sepulvado was finally scheduled to die on February 5—until the state ran out of pentobarbital, the drug it had been using for executions since 2011.

In January, corrections officials announced they had purchased enough hydromorphone to couple with midazolam, a sedative, in order to carry on the execution as planned.

The two-drug lethal cocktail has been involved in a number of horrifyingly long executions, including the 25-minute execution of Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire, the two-hour execution of Arizona inmate Joseph Woods, and the botched execution of Clayton Lockett.

Despite the state's significant efforts to hide the source of the drug, hospital officials are now publicly discussing their involvement.

"We were contacted back in January. Our pharmacist here at Memorial, from a pharmacist at the Hunt Medical Center, saying that they needed the drug, hydromorphone, for a medical patient, and at that time we complied with the request. At no time did Memorial believe or was led to believe that the drug would be used for an execution," Matt Felder, a spokesman for the hospital told KPLC TV.

According to the Lens:


According to documents shared with Sepulvado's lawyers, the drugs were sent to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center's Medical Unit, which the state describes the site as a "medical facility for seriously or chronically ill offenders."

Properly permitted hospital pharmacies like the one at Lake Charles Memorial can legally supply medications to other pharmacies, as long as the drugs are for a hospital patient, according to Malcolm Broussard, executive director of the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy.

The supplying pharmacy wouldn't need a prescription for that particular patient. Those rules apply even to highly regulated drugs such as hydromorphone, he said.

"We assumed the drug was for one of their patients, so we sent it. We did not realize what the focus was," Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, a hospital board member and judge, told the Lens.

[image via AP]