One of the more facinating ironies in politics is that those who are pro-life and those who oppose the death penalty are often ideologically opposed on most issues. But with the following press release, the Southern Center for Human Rights, one of the nations most strident opponents of the Death Penalty, are taking a page out of the pro-life playbook. They’re going after the doctors who assist in the procedure:
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Today, the Southern Center for Human Rights (“SCHR”) filed a complaint withthe Georgia Composite Medical Board against Carlo Anthony Musso, MD, seeking the revocation or suspension of his medical license based upon his involvementin illegally importing and distributing the drug, sodium thiopental, to be used in carrying out the death penalty.
The law, both federal and state, is clear: no person or organization may import or distribute a controlled substance without first registering with both the Georgia Board of Pharmacy and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of the Attorney General. The complaint filed today presents evidence that Carlo Anthony Musso, M.D., owner and operator of the Georgia-based companies Correct Health and Rainbow Medical Associates, had no such licenses when he imported sodium thiopental into the United States and distributed it to the departments of corrections in Kentucky and Tennessee. In doing so, Dr. Musso violated a host of state and federal criminal laws including, for example, both the state and federal Controlled Substances Acts.
Since the spring of 2010, there has been a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental, one of three drugs commonly used by states to carry out executions. Because sodium thiopental is necessary to eliminate the pain that would otherwise be experienced by administration ofthe other two drugs, the shortage of sodium thiopental places the states’ ability to carry out executions in jeopardy. As a result, those states that used the drug as the critical anesthetic to carry out a sentence of death by lethal injection scrambled to find alternative sources.
The Georgia Department of Corrections (“DOC”) secured its supply from a London-based pharmaceutical supplier (Dream Pharma) that operated out of the back of a driving school. In March, 2011, the Drug Enforcement Authority (DEA) seized Georgia’s supply amid questions about how the drug was imported into the United States.
Dr. Musso’s company, CorrectHealth, also purchased and imported a supply of sodium thiopental from Dream Pharma. In addition to importing this drug, Dr. Musso sold his supply to Kentucky and Tennessee, two other states desperate to obtain the highly sought-after sodium thiopental. Just as the DEA seized the drugs purchased by the Georgia DOC, the DEA followed Dr. Musso’s unregistered sales of the illegally obtained sodiumthiopental and seize the drugs purchased by Kentucky and Tennessee.
According to their website, the Georgia Composite Medical Board “is charged with the responsibility of evaluating when a physician’s or other allied health care provider’s professional conduct . . . warrants modification, suspensionor revocation of the license to practice their profession in the State of Georgia”. The Board is authorized to take disciplinary action in the event of a violationof laws, rules or regulations. The Complaint filed with the Board today presents evidence and documents that show the pattern of illegal actions taken by Dr. Musso and his companies in pursuit of importing and distributing sodiumthiopental.
“This complaint is not about Dr. Musso’s role at state-sponsored executions – this is a complaint about the law and whether the person importing and distributing the drug isproperly licensed. Dr. Musso was not,” states SCHR Attorney Jessica Oats. “Georgia’s Medical Board should revoke Dr. Musso’s license to practice medicine; at the very least, it should suspend his license pending a full investigation.”
The SCHR has become particularly thorny for the Georgia Department of Corrections lately, first discovering that the drugs used in Georgia’s executions were procured from an unlicensed pharmacy run from the back room of a London driving school, then convincing the Feds to confiscate Georgia’s supply of the drugs. Going after the Doctor who imported the drugs is an extension of that front, one which even the critics of the SCHR must admit has given them some traction in this trench warfare battle.