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Sunday, Sep. 29, 2013

EU considers limiting export of drug that Missouri would use in execution

The Associated Press

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The planned use of a common anesthetic in a Missouri execution is raising concerns that the anti-death penalty European Union could limit export of the drug, endangering the supply of a vital medication used every day in thousands of American hospitals and clinics.

The execution scheduled for Oct. 23 would be the first to use propofol, which is by far the nation’s most popular anesthetic.

Propofol is popular because it works quickly, and patients wake up faster and with fewer side effects such as post-operative nausea.

Roughly 85 percent of the U.S. supply of propofol is made in Europe, where capital punishment is outlawed, by the German company Fresenius Kabi. Export is controlled by the European Union, which prohibits trade in goods that could be used for executions. The EU is reviewing whether to subject propofol to that rule.

If it is added to the regulation, propofol would be subject to export controls, not a complete ban, EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.

Fresenius Kabi has launched a website specifically to address the ramifications of using propofol in a U.S. execution, http://propofol-info.com/.

The Food and Drug Administration is worried about any move that could affect access to propofol.

The Missouri Department of Corrections turned to propofol last year.

If propofol is added to the regulation, Fresenius Kabi would have to apply for a separate export license for every shipment, “a process that could take three to six months in every instance,” the company’s website said.

The U.S. has dealt with propofol shortages before. The American Society of Anesthesiologists said shortages resulted in less optimal outcomes, longer recovery times, medication errors and even deaths.

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