Arkansas legislator warns execution secrecy measure will harm companies; fuel black market for drugs

Arkansas House Judiciary Committee - April 2019

In a hearing in the Arkansas House Judiciary Committee earlier this month for a bill seeking to shield the states’ drug supplies in secrecy, Representative Andrew Collins raised concerns that the law would harm companies’ rights, and fuel a black market for dangerous drugs of abuse.

He said, “We saw two of the drug makers send us letters expressing. . . . grave concerns about this bill. In response, the state is trying to push drug purchasing into the shadows and create a black market where we in our prisons are purchasing drugs without sunshine, without transparency.

It is absolutely not good government. I would say it’s bad government to try to do this, it hurts freedom of contract, clearly it hurts drug manufacturers and ultimately it’s going to hurt the state.”

This hearing followed opposition to the bill by two pharmaceutical companies, Hikma Pharmaceuticals and Fresenius Kabi USA, to legislative efforts to expand the secrecy surrounding the source of Arkansas’ lethal injection drugs, highlighting that the proposal would hamper their ability to ensure their products aren’t being used for executions.

Both companies oppose the use of their drugs in executions, and have put controls in place to ensure they’re not used for capital punishment.

“We are deeply concerned with efforts by any state to obscure or hide the source of products for lethal injection,” Brooke Clarke, Hikma’s vice president for global corporate affairs, said in a letter to House leaders. “It is imperative that we are not impeded from protecting patient health and upholding the protocols we have put in place to monitor the integrity of our products and supply chain.”