The largest group of American pharmacists drafted a new policy that says providing chemicals for executions is "fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care." Though the decision isn't legally binding — pharmacists can still provide the drugs without breaking the law or losing their licenses — the American Pharmacists Association sets ethical standards for over 62,000 members.
In 2011, Europe began halting shipments of lethal injection drugs to the US, and states — which have now seen a series of botched executions — have turned to domestic pharmacists to make up the difference. But there may be a hitch in that plan, as a leading pharmacists association is now discouraging its members from providing drugs used in executions. The pharmacists' decision places the association on the side of the American Medical Association, which, like other medical groups, discourages physicians from participating in executions. The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists took on a similar policy last week.
States have been taking extreme measures in an attempt to make up for the drugs. While some have been using controversial injection compounds, others have — so far only symbolically — set up backups for lethal injection, reauthorizing the firing squad and nearly bringing back the electric chair.