ST. LOUIS — Hundreds of Missouri anesthesiologists urged the state on Monday not to use propofol in an upcoming execution, saying the fallout could jeopardize the availability of the anesthetic relied on by thousands of U.S. hospitals and clinics.
The Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists statement followed an Associated Press report last week citing possible European export controls if propofol is used in a U.S. execution. Missouri is the only U.S. state where prison officials plan to use the powerful anesthetic for a lethal injection, citing a shortage in the drugs usually used for executions.
Propofol is far and away the most commonly used anesthetic in the U.S., and around 85 percent of it is made in Europe. The European Union opposes the death penalty and is weighing whether to limit export, raising concerns about a potential shortage in the U.S.
"We urge the Department of Corrections not to jeopardize the safety of over 50 million patients who rely on this critical medication for anesthesia during surgery each year," MSA president Dr. Larry Petersen said in a statement.
"A shortage of this medication will take the medical specialty of anesthesiology back 20 years, leading to more complications in the operating room, an increased rate of nausea and vomiting after surgery, and extended time required to wake up from anesthesia after a procedure," he said.
The MSA- which represents more than 800 physician anesthesiologists, along with their residents and assistants - said the debate is not about capital punishment, but simply about propofol.