Doctors: Drugs stockpiled for executions needed for COVID-19 patients

Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 11:14 AM CDT
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Drugs such as midazolam, vecuronium bromide, rocuronium bromide and fentanyl that states have stockpiled to execute convicted criminals are needed to save the lives of the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients in the U.S., a group of doctors and medical professionals say in a letter to state officials.

“Our research suggests that the drugs currently stockpiled by your states could be used to treat hundreds of COVID-19 patients,” the letter says.

“These medicines were never made or developed to cause death,” the letter says.

“To the contrary, many were formulated to connect patients to life-saving ventilators and lessen the discomfort of intubation.”

Many states have refused to disclose what exactly they have in their execution stockpiles and the secrecy makes it impossible to calculate how much impact releasing the drugs could have, but the group says, based on publicly-released information from a handful of states, the supplies could be used to save more than 100 patients.

Factoring in the stockpiles of states that don’t disclose information, the group says, “these supplies could be used to save the lives of potentially hundreds of patients suffering from COVID-19 and potentially thousands of patients in other ICU settings.”

“We urgently ask you to send any execution drug supplies in your storerooms to hospitals where they are needed to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients,” the group says in the letter.

“At this crucial moment for our country, we must prioritize the needs and lives of patients above ending the lives of prisoners.”

Five executions have been postponed so far this year amid the coronavirus outbreak.