Shielding identities of execution-drug makers could subject Ohio to lawsuits

From The Plain Dealer The experience of other states suggest that Ohio would subject itself to lawsuits by keeping secret the makers of drugs used for executions.

Leaks of the information also could undercut the attempts at secrecy, according to a Northeast Ohio Media Group examination of four states that already have laws shielding the identify of execution-drug makers.

Ohio lawmakers were warned of the potential problems in testimony last week, but went ahead and passed House Bill 663allowing compounding pharmacies to remain anonymous for 20 years. The bill's co-sponsor said the small-scale drug companies are reluctant to make the lethal-injection drugs unless their participation could be kept secret.

Attorney General Mike DeWine and other proponents of the reforms in HB 663 say they are needed if Ohio is to resume executions next February, once a court-ordered moratorium ends.

But legal challenges are pending against similar secrecy rules already on the books elsewhere, including ArizonaMissouriPennsylvania, and Texas. The lawsuits have been filed by media outlets claiming the public has a right to know how the states kill people and by death-row inmates asserting they need the information to determine whether they can challenge their execution on the basis of cruel and unusual punishment.

Mike Brickner of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio predicted HB 663, if passed, would be challenged in court. He said the ACLU would consider filing such a lawsuit should the bill become law.

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