Meet the Guy Who Illegally Sold Execution Drugs to 4 States

Buzzfeed digs into Harris Pharma of Salt Lake City, India
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2015 7:59 AM CDT
Meet the Guy Who Illegally Sold Execution Drugs to 4 States
This November 2005 file photo shows the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Corrections Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

Four US states bought execution drugs illegally supplied from a man in India, according to a report from Buzzfeed. Journalists Chris McDaniel and Tasneem Nashrulla say Chris Harris of Harris Pharma, a self-described drug manufacturer and distributor in Salt Lake City, India, has earned tens of thousands of dollars from the sale of drugs like sodium thiopental, though he has no pharmaceutical background. His first sales—500 vials of sodium thiopental each to Nebraska and South Dakota—came in 2010 and 2011 when he was working as a broker at Kayem Pharmaceuticals, according to Buzzfeed. But by the time Nebraska made its second purchase from Harris in August 2011, he'd left Kayem. Still the drugs arrived. How did Harris get them? He's not saying. An employee at his office in India could say only that no drugs were made there.

Another company address was an apartment at which Harris no longer lives. Harris' ex-landlord said he left in 2013 without paying seven months of rent and had told him he was "a computer professional." But Swiss drug manufacturer Naari says it knows what happened. It claimed in 2011 that the drugs sent to Nebraska were intended to go to Zambia, but "Harris misappropriated our medicines and diverted them from their intended purpose and use." Still, states continued purchasing execution drugs through Harris. Before repealing the death penalty in May, Nebraska ordered 1,000 vials—the "minimum order," Harris had said—though it had only 10 men on death row. Harris earned $54,400. The FDA says it's investigating Harris, noting "sodium thiopental is unlawful to import." Click for more from Buzzfeed. (Read more India stories.)

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