Judge allows Nebraska to conduct US first fentanyl execution

Small vials of fentanyl are shown in the inpatient pharmacy at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. (Photo via The Independent)
Small vials of fentanyl are shown in the inpatient pharmacy at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. (Photo via The Independent)

A US federal judge has allowed Nebraska to go ahead with its planned execution of an inmate using a powerful drug produced by a German company.

The judge rejected a request by drug manufacturer Fresenius Kabi to block Nebraska from using its products in the execution of Carey Dean Moore planned for Tuesday.

“While Fresenius Kabi takes no position on capital punishment, Fresenius Kabi opposes the use of its products for this purpose and therefore does not sell certain drugs to correctional facilities,” the company said in the lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the District of Nebraska.

The ruling by US District Court Judge Richard Kopf Friday afternoon cleared the way for the state to carry out its first lethal injection and the country’s first execution using the powerful opioid fentanyl.

The company, however, quickly moved to appeal the judge’s order, leaving uncertain whether the execution of a 60-year-old inmate sentenced to death in 1980 for killing two Omaha cabdrivers will still happen.

Death-row inmate Carey Dean Moore (File photo)

Meanwhile, another drug company jumped into the flurry of legal protests of the state’s lethal injection drugs, filing a brief Saturday in federal court asking to intervene in the lawsuit filed by Fresenius Kabi.

The motion by Sandoz Inc., which is a manufacturer of cisatracurium, a muscle relaxant, to intervene will be heard by Kopf on Monday.

The company seeks to force the state to identify the manufacturer of the drug to be used in Moore’s execution.

“The use of cisatracurium in this unauthorized manner will cause substantial reputational and other harm to Sandoz, and compromise Sandoz’s longstanding efforts to ensure its products are not used for capital punishment,” the complaint said.

The drug has never been used in an execution, nor tested or approved for that purpose, the company said.

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