Cook, et al. v. FDA, et al., No. 12-5176 (D.C. Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, a group of prisoners, filed suit against the FDA for allowing state correctional departments to import sodium thiopental (thiopental), a misbranded and misapproved new drug used in lethal injection protocols, in violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), 21 U.S.C. 381(a), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(A). The court concluded that, because there were clear statutory guidelines for the agency to follow in exercising its enforcement powers, the FDA's compliance with section 381(a) was subject to judicial review under the standards of the APA. The court also concluded that the FDA's policy of admitting foreign manufactured thiopental destined for state correctional facilities were not in accordance with law because section 381(a) required the agency to sample and examine for violations of any drug offered for import that had been prepared in an unregistered facility. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred by failing to seek the joinder of the state governments whose possession and use of the thiopental at issue the court declared illegal. Accordingly, the order of the district court pertaining to the thiopental already in the possession of the states was vacated, but the underlying judgment of the district court was affirmed.