The hospital that unwittingly supplied lethal-injection drugs to the Louisiana prison system said Friday that a Corrections Department pharmacist specifically said the drugs would be used for medical purposes — not for an execution.

That statement of possible deception by the state is stronger than the remarks earlier this week by a frustrated member of the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital board of directors. Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux previously said the hospital “assumed” the drug was for a medical patient.

However, a hospital spokesman said today the prison's pharmacist was explicit in the request.


That statement of possible deception by the state is stronger than the remarks earlier this week by a frustrated member of the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital board of directors.


 

“On January 28, 2014 a Memorial pharmacist was contacted by a pharmacist from the Hunt Correctional Center Medical Unit that requested Hydromorphone (Dauladid) for a medical patient. At no time was Memorial told the drug would be used for an execution,” reads a statement issued by Matt Felder, the public information officer for the hospital. “There is an ethical and legal process for sharing drugs between pharmacists and Memorial transferred the drugs accordingly.”

In response to several follow-up questions, Felder said his statement would be the only remarks on the issue, adding, “Memorial will not get into the debate of state executions.”

The state Department of Public Safety and Corrections today declined to comment on the transaction, issuing a vague statement that the state’s lethal-injection process is pending in federal court.

The Lens story on the transfer of hydromorphone in the days before a scheduled execution struck a chord with readers nationwide after it was featured Thursday on the homepage of The Huffington Post, and in a news update by Slate. More than 70,000 people read the story on The Lens site, and other news outlets reported the story as well.

The Lens’ coverage has been part of a national discussion of the acquisition and use of new lethal cocktails to execute convicted killers. Drug companies have made it increasingly difficult for prisons to get the necessary drugs, and states have been experimenting with different mixtures recently, resulting in a handful of botched executions.

Here are a few of the other stories that resulted from The Lens' coverage.

Louisiana Might’ve Made History By Getting a Lethal Injection Drug From a Hospital

State accesses drug for execution from Lake Area hospital

State Tricks Hospital Into Giving It Hard-To-Find Execution Drugs

Della Hasselle, a freelance journalist and producer, reports on charter schools and writes occasional criminal justice stories for The Lens. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Hasselle lived in New York for 10 years. While up north, she produced and anchored news segments, wrote feature stories and reported breaking news for DNAinfo.com, a hyperlocal news site. Before that, she worked at the New York Daily News. She obtained her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She can be reached at (917) 304-6121.

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