Business & Tech

US judge rejects German drug maker's effort to halt execution

A US judge on Friday denied German drug maker Fresenius Kabi's motion to stop a planned lethal injection execution in Nebraska, claiming the state illegally obtained the company's drugs.

German drug maker Fresenius Kabi tried to stop its drugs being used in a lethal injection execution, seen here being protested against near the US Supreme Court in March 2017
German drug maker Fresenius Kabi tried to stop its drugs being used in a lethal injection execution, seen here being protested against near the US Supreme Court in March 2017 (AFP)

A US judge on Friday denied German drug maker Fresenius Kabi's motion to stop a planned lethal injection execution in Nebraska, claiming the state illegally obtained the company's drugs.

Federal judge Richard Kopf ruled that the state could carry out the execution, its first in 21 years, using a four-drug protocol, according to US media reports.

The drug maker had argued it was the likely source of two of those drugs, and their use in an execution would hurt the company's reputation, especially with a European public that largely holds negative views of capital punishment.

But Judge Kopf rejected the company's arguments, issuing an oral ruling from the bench saying that since Nebraska has not publicly identified the source of its execution drugs, the drug maker's concerns were too speculative, according to reports.

The company reportedly planned to appeal the ruling, which for the time being did not alter the planned execution date of convicted murderer Carey Dean Moore, set for Tuesday.

Moore is sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of two taxi drivers. He is not contesting his execution order, but it could nevertheless be delayed by the lawsuit should it prevail in an appeal.

"I can't say, in any way, that the public interest favors the plaintiff," the judge said referring to the drug maker, according to television station WOWT.

State officials have said they obtained the drugs legally, although they have kept their source secret, reflecting a general dilemma for US states that continue to carry out the death penalty via lethal injection.

Injectable drugs have become harder to acquire amid public opposition and a reluctance or refusal by drug manufacturers to sell their products to prisons for use in executions.

Last month, a similar lawsuit by drug maker Alvogen temporarily halted an execution in Nevada.