A federal judge in Las Vegas is holding a series of hearings to assess whether Nevada’s new lethal injection protocol is constitutional.
Nevada officials are seeking to use an experimental and untested drug combination to execute Zane Floyd in what would be the state’s first execution in over 15 years. Mr. Floyd’s attorneys argue that the proposed combination of three or four drugs—including the anesthetic ketamine and the synthetic opioid fentanyl, neither of which has ever been used in an execution before—would subject him to an agonizingly cruel and inhumane death.
During the hearings, Dr. Ihsan Azzam, Nevada’s chief medical officer, testified that he could not give an opinion on the effectiveness of the proposed drugs. “There’s no medication that was designed to kill people,” he said.
Department of Corrections Director Charles Daniels, in turn, testified that of all the potential complications related to the new protocol, he is most concerned about the state’s current drug supply expiring. Nevada’s ketamine is set to expire at the end of February 2022 and prison officials “have no reasonable belief that [they’ll] be able to purchase additional drugs.”
Nevada’s ketamine supply was unlawfully obtained from Hikma Pharmaceuticals, which the company described in a cease-and-desist letter as a “violation of state and federal law” and a “knowing violation of Hikma’s property and proprietary interests in its products.” Hikma demanded the immediate return of the drug and has threatened to sue if the state goes forward with plans to use it in an execution.