Then the third drug, commonly potassium chloride, would be injected to stop the heart. Sullivan said that potassium chloride, when administered without proper anesthesia, could be very painful.
Cedarville associate professor of pharmacy Marty Eng explained that the new two-drug process also begins with a sedative, midazolam.
“The second drug (hydromorphone) is usually used for pain, severe pain,” he said. “Often times the side effects of that we worry about are things like causing the person to be too sedated, causing their breathing to slow down dangerously, especially in combination with the first drug.”
Together the drugs have a calming effect followed by unconsciousness, pain reduction and then cessation of breathing.
“Essentially these act on a part of the brain center that controls our automatic breathing. So by blocking that part of the brain you functionally stop breathing,” Eng said.
Heart function would stop soon after.
“Given the fast action of the two drugs and the level of doses that are planned, you would be unconscious long before the cessation of breathing,” Eng said.