Propofol has never been used for executions, but some states are considering changes to their lethal injection protocols due to market unavailability of barbiturates that have been previously used. The American Society of Anesthesiologists commends Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on his recent decision to not use propofol in a manner that may have significantly affected the availability of this medication for the anesthetic care of patients in the United States.
Propofol's wide-spread patient acceptance and tolerance in procedures requiring anesthesia make this medicine critically important to providing the most optimal outcomes for patients.
The vast majority of propofol used in the United States is manufactured in Europe and the European Union (EU) places export restrictions on products being traded with countries that use those products for capital punishment. Fresenius Kabi, based in Germany, currently supplies 89 percent of all propofol infusions in the United States. There have been critical shortages of propofol over the last several years. Recently, the FDA placed propofol on the list of resolved drug shortages. Drug shortages have led to less optimal outcomes (e.g. post-op vomiting and nausea), longer operating room and recovery times, medication errors, and even death.
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