ST. LOUIS (AP) — The state of Missouri will move ahead with two planned executions despite efforts in Europe to block a common anesthetic from being used in the procedure, Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday.
A Germany company produces almost the entire supply of propofol, but the European Union is considering possible export limits as part of its anti-capital punishment policies. Missouri has enough to carry out it next two executions, the first scheduled for later this month, but Nixon declined to say what the state would do if it is unable to get more propofol.
Nixon said state and federal court systems, not European politicians, will decide death penalty policy in Missouri.
"A number of courts have already had an opportunity to review this matter," Nixon also said, referring to broader legal challenges to the death penalty. "We're going to continue to monitor it very closely. At this point, there's no stay in effect."
On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Corrections, alleging that the agency failed to comply with open records requests related to its planned use of the propofol in executions.
The Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists has also urged the state to reconsider using propofol, warning that Missouri "is on the verge of triggering a national drug shortage that will have a severe impact on the general welfare of the citizens of our state and our country."
Propofol is America's most popular anesthetic, according to information from the American Society of Anesthesiologists. About 50 million vials are administered annually in some 15,000 U.S. hospitals and clinics — about four-fifths of all anesthetic procedures. The society said in a statement that propofol is popular because it works quickly and patients wake up faster with fewer side effects such as post-operative nausea.
Convicted killer Allen Nicklasson is scheduled to die by injection on Oct. 23 in the state's first use of propofol for capital punishment since changing its execution protocol last year. Joseph Franklin is scheduled to be put to death on Nov. 20.
Speaking with reporters after a dedication ceremony for the Congressman William L. Clay, Sr. Bridge, Nixon said it's not unusual for countries to be at odds over export issues.
"You can parse down the various things that foreign countries say about products from Missouri," the governor said. "Whether it's jets made by Boeing or Roundup Ready (herbicide) from Monsanto, or various things from our state. The fact that trade agreements and trade arrangements (prompt) differences of opinion, and they touch foreign policy issues all the time, whether it's the war in Iraq or the issues involving Syria."