Death row lawyers question competence of lethal injection drug supplier

May 18, 2011

Lawyers for a US death row prisoner have called for his execution not to go ahead due to serious questions over how the drugs set to be used were imported, and the competence and credibility of their supplier. A motion filed by Carey Dean Moore’s lawyers in Nebraska asserts that the state’s Department of Correctional Services (DCS) did not obtain the execution drug sodium thiopental from a manufacturer approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It also questions whether the drug supplier’s personnel “have the level of competence, professionalism and credibility to be DCS’ source of one of the essential lethal drugs”, in the light of abusive emails between the firm’s director and other staff following an internal dispute. The Director of India-based Kayem Pharma, which supplied the sodium thiopental, has described his former US colleagues who were in direct contact with Nebraska’s DCS as “drug peddlers” in emails to Moore’s lawyers. Kayem’s former US personnel have sent the Director emails referring to him as a “piece of shit thief”. Reprieve Investigator Sophie Walker said:

“It is hard to see how Nebraska’s department of corrections can defend the use of these drugs in executions. “Not only were they improperly imported – but they were bought by Nebraska from people described as ‘drug peddlers’ by one of their own colleagues. “The revelation of chaotic and abusive relations between Kayem Pharma’s US and Indian personnel casts serious doubt over their competence. “If Nebraska now pushes ahead with executions using these drugs, it risks irreparably damaging its credibility.”


Notes to editors

1. For further information please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0)20 7427 1082

2. The motion filed by Carey Dean Moore’s lawyers can be found here:

3. Kayem Pharma’s Director, Navneet Verma, describes former US colleagues Chris Harris (‘Director Sales and Marketing’) and Wayne Atwater (‘Director of Sales’) as ‘drug peddlers’ in an email on p33

4. Mr Verma forwarded emails from Mr Harris and Mr Atwater to Mr Moore’s lawyers, in which they described him as a ‘piece of shit thief’ – see p32

5. See pp 23-4 for Mr Moore’s lawyers’ statement: “It is undisputed that DCS did not obtain its quantity of Thiopentone injection IP1Gm “thiosol Sodium” from a foreign manufacturer or distributor registered, inspected, and approved by the DEA and FDA.”

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 27 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.