Missouri joined a growing list of prisons across U.S. resorting to the use of “secret” and “experimental” lethal injection drugs, when it executed an inmate, William Rousan (57) for killing a couple during an attempted robbery in 1993.

Rousan was reportedly pronounced dead at 12.10 a.m., nine minutes after he received a lethal injection at a prison facility. His execution came after final appeals failed including arguments by Rousan’s lawyers that the secrecy used to obtain the execution drug used made it impossible to know whether the chemicals were potentially substandard and could cause pain and suffering during the execution process.

Missouri, which has executed one death row inmate each month since November, joins others such as Oklahoma that have started using “compounded execution drugs purchased from unnamed pharmacies,” after the main sedative used traditionally, sodium thiopental, became unavailable due to its sole manufacturer, a company called Hospira, halting production in 2010.

In January this year Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire (53) visibly gasped for air and snorted as it took approximately 25 minutes for him to die under a new lethal injection protocol followed by the state, entailing the use of previously untested drugs.

Following campaigns by anti-death-penalty groups such as the United Kingdom’s Reprieve, pharmaceutical companies agreed to restrict U.S. prisons’ access to their therapeutic drugs for execution purposes. Shortly thereafter some U.S. prisons, including Nebraska, turned to other nations to import the drug, including from India, and despite import approvals not being authorised by the U.S. regulator, the Food and Drug Administration.

However media reports, including in The Hindu, highlighted the role of the Indian firm involved, Kayem Pharma, and that company subsequently pulled out of the deal with the U.S. prison.

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