Speed Reads

Capital Punishment

Nebraska could become 1st state to use fentanyl in an execution

Nebraska is expected to execute its first death row inmate in 21 years on Tuesday, using fentanyl.

This would be the first time a state has ever used the powerful opioid in an execution. Nebraska wants to use fentanyl along with Valium and other drugs to put to death Carey Dean Moore, who was sentenced to death for the 1979 murders of two cab drivers in Omaha. On Monday, a federal appeals court rejected an attempt by the German pharmaceutical company Fresenius Kabi to stop the execution; Fresenius Kabi said two of its drugs, a muscle relaxant and potassium chloride, would be used in the lethal cocktail, but claimed Nebraska obtained the drugs illegally, The Guardian reports.

Fresenius Kabi argued the state did not store the drugs properly, which could lead to a painful execution and damage to the company's reputation. The court disagreed and said the execution must go on because it's "the will of the people." Nebraska's director of prisons would not reveal how the state was able to buy the drugs, but said the Fresenius Kabi drugs are set to expire and must be used soon. Nebraska has been having a hard time getting the drugs it needs for capital punishment, due to manufacturers and distributors not wanting to be part of the execution business. When taken in high doses, and especially in combination with other substances, fentanyl can cause respiratory distress and death.