McKesson Corporation v Arkansas Department of Corrections

Complaint submitted by McKesson Corporation - April 2017

In 2016, the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) intentionally sought to circumvent McKesson Corporation’s policies, procuring vecuronium bromide under the false pretense that it would be used for medical purposes in ADC’s health facility.

Upon learning that ADC was potentially holding the product for lethal injection purposes, McKesson immediately requested and was assured by ADC that the product would be returned. McKesson issued a full refund to ADC, and made several additional requests for the product, but the product was never returned.

When the product was not returned, McKesson took legal action against the ADC in April 2017 for obtaining these products fraudulently through “false pretense, trickery, and bad faith”. The lawsuit resulted in the temporary stay of eight executions by an Arkansas state court.

McKesson’s initial complaint to the Arkansas court states:

“ADC intentionally and knowingly sought to purchase pharmaceuticals it knew McKesson was not authorized to sell to it. By using an established customer service relationship and its medical director’s license, ADC led McKesson to believe that the Vecuronium was being purchased at a doctor’s direction and for a legitimate medical purpose. ADC later promised to set aside the product for return. In response, McKesson refunded the monies used in the purchase. McKesson kept its end of the bargain by issuing a credit for the products. ADC repudiated its promise and has kept both the Vecuronium and the refunded monies…

McKesson will suffer grave reputational harm for being associated with the planned executions of the seven inmates using products that the manufacturer banned for such purpose. Reputational harms will also impact McKesson’s relationships with its contractual partners. Manufacturers that prohibit the sale of lethal pharmaceuticals to states and correctional facilities that administer capital punishment may be less likely to enter into business arrangements with McKesson if products McKesson distributed are used in state-sponsored executions. McKesson has a significant commercial interest in ensuring that its contracts are implemented correctly.”

Read more from McKesson's complaint