COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Records obtained by The Associated Press show that Ohio's most recent shipments of lethal execution drugs were produced by a company that wants states to stop using them for capital punishment.
Shipments of a sedative and painkiller obtained by Ohio's government in 2012 and 2013 are required by the state's execution policy and resulted in a prolonged execution last month that sparked calls for a moratorium on capital punishment.
The drugs, purchased from Illinois-based Hospira, were used in the Jan. 16 execution of Dennis McGuire -- which triggered controversy because it was the first time an inmate was killed with the two-drug combination. Previously, Ohio used pentobarbital in its executions -- as other states do -- but was forced to look for an alternative when the manufacturer of the drug refused to continue supplying it to governments for executions.
Hospira said it manufactures the drugs to enhance and save the lives of patients it serves.
McGuire's attorney, Robert Lowe, expressed concern before the execution that the new two-drug combination might induce a physical and psychological terror on his client known as "air hunger" -- a condition where the inmate may become increasingly starved for oxygen during the execution process.
McGuire's dramatic display on the execution gurney, during which he made several loud gasps and choking sounds, then sparked criticism across the world -- and calls for a death-penalty moratorium. Afterward, his family sued alleging undue cruelty. Lowe was also investigated briefly after reports surfaced that he coached McGuire to make the choking sounds during his execution, but officials found no evidence that those reports were true.
Documents obtained through a public records request show Ohio purchased its most recent batch of Hospira-made narcotics from drug distributor McKesson.
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