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Arkansas Supreme Court rules state must identify execution drug manufacturers

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Arkansas ruled [opinion] Thursday that the state prison system may be permitted to conceal information that could be used to identify third parties who obtain drugs for the state, but must continue to identify the manufacturers of the drugs.

The ruling comes from an appeal by the Director of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) from a lower court order requiring the ADC to provide Arkansas lawyer Steven Shultz with label inserts for its supply of potassium chloride. The ADC argued the drug information requested was confidential under the Arkansas Method of Execution Act [text]. The ADC did not provide Shultz with the information because the inserts and labels could, reportedly, be used to identify the sellers or suppliers of the lethal drugs.

The Arkansas Supreme Court reviewed the statute and found that the drug manufacturer's identity is not protected under the statute, but can still redact information that could identify the sellers in the chain of distribution of the drug. The Court agreed with the ADC that lot numbers could identify the sellers of the drugs, which is allowed to be confidential under the statute.

The court remanded the case to the lower court to determine what information on the labels and package inserts must be redacted for confidentiality.

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