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CNV Organizers Work to End Pharmacist Support for Death Penalty Drugs

Posted by Ryan Hall

CNV Organizers in Southern California recently joined members of Death Penalty Focus of Orange County for a vigil at a convention for the American Society for Health-Systems Pharmacists to encourage them to join other Pharmacists Opposed to Participation in Executions.  Below is the text of the handout they passed out to attendees.


To Members of the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists:

Welcome to Anaheim! We want to thank you for everything that you do for your patients and communities. Pharmacists are such valued and trusted members of our health team.

We are concerned though about the harm to your profession that is being done by a handful of pharmacists who are supplying the drugs used in executions by lethal injection that will, however painfully or slowly, cause the death of the recipients.

More than 50 human rights groups and religious organizations* have petitioned the American Pharmacists Association to affirm that participation in executions violates key tenants of the Pharmacists Code of Ethics, which states unequivocally that the “primary obligation of a pharmacist is to individual patients” (Section 7).

Pharmacists are currently out of step with virtually all other major medical professions in the US by failure to ban practitioners from participating in executions. The American Medical Association has long prohibited any “action which would directly cause the death of the condemned,” and any “action which would assist, supervise, or contribute to the ability of another individual directly cause the death of the condemned. . . .”

Participation in executions undermines the position of trust that pharmacists enjoy in this nation. A handful of pharmacists are bringing the entire pharmaceutical profession into disrepute by using their training and tools to kill their patients without their consent. Pharmacists as individuals are free to agree with or dissent from executions as public policy, but they must not participate in this process as medical professionals who have sworn an oath to protect life.

*Partial list of organizations calling on pharmacists to impose a ban:

Alliance of Baptists
Amnesty International
American Civil Liberties Union
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Human Rights Watch
Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights
Nat’l Coalition to Abolish the Death
National Council of Churches, USA
For further information, contact Kelsey Kauffman,
Pax Christi, USA
People of Faith Against the Death Penalty
Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty
Unitarian Universalists for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
United Methodists Church, General Board of Church and Society
Witness to Innocence
Pharmacists Opposed to Participation in Executions
Founders: Robert Day, PharmD, Leonard Edloe, BSP, MDiv, PharmD,


Pharmacists Opposed to Participation in Executions
Founders: Robert Day, PharmD, Leonard Edloe, BSP, MDiv, PharmD, William E. Fassett, PhD, RPh; Philip Hansten, PharmD
Our Goal

To promote discussion by pharmacists and pharmacy organizations on the ethical issues surrounding the participation of pharmacists in legally authorized executions, with the hope that individual pharmacists and pharmacy organizations will take a position opposing their participation in any manner as suppliers of the lethal substances or advisors of the substances to be used in executions.


1. Pharmacy is a healing profession, dedicated to the relief of disease or suffering. Participation in executions, either directly or indirectly, is fundamentally contrary to the goals of the pharmacy profession. The “Oath of a Pharmacist” adopted by the by both the American Pharmacists Association and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy—and taken annually by all student pharmacists or new graduates of pharmacy schools—stresses “service to others,” “relief of suffering” and “optimal outcomes” all of which are antithetical to participation in executions.

2. Other healing profession associations have already taken positions opposing participation by their members in executions. Among others, the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, and American Board of Anesthesiology have addressed this issue in their codes of ethics, and in each case have concluded that participation in executions is contrary to the goals of their respective professions. This is particularly urgent for pharmacy since pharmacists are being called upon to provide drugs to be used for lethal injection.

3. We are not advocating opposition to the death penalty, only that we believe that participation in an execution in any manner conflicts with a pharmacist’s professional commitment as a health care provider.

Please consider joining Pharmacists Opposed to Participation in Executions

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