Pharmacists who sell execution drugs to the Mississippi prison system would face protests or other pressure if their names were released to the public, a state attorney told the state Supreme Court Tuesday.

An attorney representing a group that opposes the death penalty said, though, that the information must be disclosed under the state Public Records Act, in part because taxpayer money is used to buy the drugs.

Death penalty opponents in other states have made similar arguments about the secrecy of execution drugs, with mixed success. So far, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to weigh in. States are struggling to obtain execution drugs since European pharmaceutical companies began blocking the use of their products for lethal injections.

Special assistant attorney general Paul Barnes told Mississippi justices that suppliers of execution drugs are unwilling to do business with the state Department of Corrections “unless we can protect their identities.”

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