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US Execution Blocked By Drugmaker Protests

A condemned killer who had given up on any further appeals as he awaited execution in the United States has received an 11th-hour reprieve after a pharmaceutical company sued to block the use of one of its drugs in the lethal injection process.

Alvogen Inc claimed the Nevada Corrections Department obtained its sedative midazolam illegitimately and on Wednesday a court ordered it be barred from being used in the execution of 47-year-old Scott Dozier.

Another judge formally issued an indefinite stay of the execution.

Alvogen is the second US drugmaker since last year to take legal action against a US state using one of its products to administer capital punishment, saying the brand would be tarnished by association with the process of putting people to death.

McKesson Corp unsuccessfully sued Arkansas in April 2017, seeking to stop its muscle relaxant, vecuronium bromide, from being included in the state's lethal injection mix.

Executions in several states have been stymied by global drug companies' opposition to supplying products for death sentences, and difficulties in finding effective replacements.

Dozier had been scheduled to be put to death at 8pm (local time) on Wednesday at a state prison in Ely, Nevada, about 395 kilometres north of Las Vegas, in what would have been the state's first execution in 12 years.

But the ruling by Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, and the stay that followed from Judge Jennifer Togliatti, left uncertain when his execution could proceed.

Gonzalez set a status check on the case for September 10, court spokeswoman Mary Ann Price said. Corrections spokeswoman Brooke Santina said the execution would remain effectively postponed for at least that long.

In its lawsuit on Tuesday, privately held Alvogen said the use of its product midazolam for an execution would cause "irreparable injury" to "its reputation and its goodwill."

Nevada corrections officials revised their lethal injection protocol last week, saying they were switching to midazolam to replace expired prison supplies of another sedative, diazepam.

Midazolam, which the World Health Organization counts on its list of essential medicines, has nevertheless been implicated in a number of botched executions in other states.

AAP

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