On June 24, 2021, Hikma Phamaceuticals USA Inc. (Hikma), a company that manufactures the anesthetic Ketamine, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, after it emerged that the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) purchased Hikma’s Ketamine with the intention of illegally using it for lethal injection executions.
In the letter, demanding the immediate return of the drug and written confirmation that the state will not use Hikma’s medicines for capital punishment, the company states:
“NDOC’s purchase and intended use of Hikma’s products for capital punishment is in violation of state and federal law, in knowing violation of Hikma’s property and proprietary interests in its products, and these actions will cause significant damage to Hikma’s business reputation and the interests of its investors.”
This is the second time in three years that Nevada is facing legal action from pharmaceutical manufacturers due to the state’s unlawful purchases of life-saving medicines for lethal injection executions. In 2018, drug manufacturers Alvogen, Hikma, and Sandoz sued the state for engaging in deceptive practices to obtain the companies’ drugs for executions.
Following a court decision blocking the use of the drugs in executions and finding that the state used ‘subterfuge’ and ‘bad faith’ to obtain the medicines, Nevada settled the case in April 2020 and agreed to relinquish the drugs to the pharmaceutical companies who manufactured them, including Hikma.
“This is not Hikma’s first rodeo with NDOC on this issue, and the [Office of the Attorney General] and NDOC are well aware of Hikma’s long history of opposing the purchase and misuse of its life-saving products for capital punishment,” Hikma’s lawyer wrote in the June 2021 letter. “It is nothing less than shocking, and embarrassing for the State of Nevada.”