The name of the physician picked to attend the Nevada’s first lethal injection in 12 years will remain under seal while drug companies challenge the personnel and procedures the state plans to use for a twice-postponed execution, a state court judge said Tuesday.
State Deputy Solicitor General Jordan Smith raised the specter of death threats for officials whose names would be made public. Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ruled that drug company lawyers are entitled to know whether the doctor in charge is properly licensed.
She said the names of prison officials designated as the “execution team” can remain confidential but the name of the doctor has to be disclosed to drugmakers’ legal representatives. The name can stay “attorney eyes only,” Gonzalez said.
The ruling came amid arguments setting boundaries for hearings next week on claims by drugmakers Alvogen, Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA and Sandoz Inc. that Nevada improperly obtained their products for a lethal injection, which the companies say they don’t allow.
Separate arguments are scheduled Sept. 21 before the state Supreme Court in Carson City on the postponement of the execution of twice-condemned inmate Scott Raymond Dozier.
Nevada’s execution protocol calls for using the sedative midazolam, followed by lethal doses of fentanyl and the muscle paralytic cisatracurium to put Dozier to death.
Dozier, 47, is not challenging the convictions and sentence he received in 2007 for killings in Phoenix and Las Vegas. He insists he wants to die and doesn’t care if it’s painful.
Nevada law requires executions to be by lethal injection, but the state is among many in the U.S. that have had trouble obtaining necessary drugs.
Dozier’s execution was postponed in November and July by court battles over the drugs, and the state announced in July that it substituted midazolam for another sedative after stocks of it expired.
Smith argued that Nevada’s plan is being delayed by a campaign to “frustrate” the state’s ability to carry out a legal execution.
He said the state should be able to protect information about the drugs it wants to use, manufacturers and how prison officials and the chief state medical officer developed the execution protocol.
Attorney Todd Bice, representing Alvogen, said the companies need to know if U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules and regulations are followed by the state and the doctor.
“If it is an actual doctor, that doctor is misusing our drugs for a non-FDA approved purpose,” Bice told the judge. “We are entitled to know that, and we are entitled to sue the doctor over his or her conduct.”