Centene-bought pharmacy won't give Missouri execution drugs
Feb. 21, 2018
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri health care company on Tuesday said a pharmacy it recently bought won't provide execution drugs to the state, a pledge that came after media reports that the suburban St. Louis business had been the state's secret source of the drugs for years.
Buzzfeed News reported that Foundation Care, based in Earth City, Missouri, supplied the state Department of Corrections with pentobarbital for 17 executions since 2014 for $135,000. The media outlet cited two sources with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of strict state laws prohibiting disclosure or publishing of the identity of the supplier.
Centene Corp. purchased Foundation Care in October 2017. Since then, Centene spokeswoman Marcela Manjarrez Hawn said Foundation Care "has never supplied, and will never supply any pharmaceutical product to any state for the purpose of effectuating executions."
The Department of Corrections declined to comment on the report from Buzzfeed News and on Centene's promise never to provide execution drugs.
Phone and email messages that The Associated Press left with Foundation Care, which Buzzfeed News reported has also faced scrutiny from federal regulators, were not immediately returned Tuesday. The Food and Drug Administration in 2013 designated Foundation Care as a "high-risk" pharmacy, and inspectors found examples of lax procedures that they said could put patients at risk.
Republican Sen. Paul Wieland, who has sponsored failed legislation to end the state's death penalty, said Tuesday that he still needs to verify what Buzzfeed News reported. However, he said, it would be "deeply concerning" if the state has worked with "unsavory companies or companies that are flying under the radar of state or federal regulation."
"If the accusations are true, then I think it's something that we need to look into further as a state and make sure that we're dealing with reputable people," Wieland said.
Missouri's last execution was in January of 2017. Mark Christeson was put to death for killing a woman and her two children in 1998 after he and his cousin broke into the family's rural Vichy, Missouri, home.