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April 22, 2011

"States quickly switching execution drug"

The title of this post is the headline of this new AP article about changes in lethal injection protocols.  Here are the particulars:

Nearly two-thirds of the 16 states with active death chambers are switching to an alternative sedative for execution — even as the drug's manufacturer argues against its use in capital punishment and some European countries push export bans for such drugs.

Ten states have now switched to pentobarbital or are considering a switch as part of their three-drug methods, according to a survey of all death penalty states by the Associated Press.  Among those joining the states that previously switched are Alabama, Louisiana and Florida. South Carolina also is considering using the drug as it prepares for an execution next month.

At issue is a shortage of sodium thiopental, a sedative that states used for more than three decades until its only U.S. manufacturer stopped making it in 2009 and then dropped plans to resume production earlier this year.  The shortage forced several states to scramble to find new supplies and executions were temporarily delayed in Arizona, California, Georgia and Oklahoma.  States swapped supplies of sodium thiopental or looked overseas, to England, India and even Pakistan....

Ohio spent $218 for 5 grams of sodium thiopental in February, but spent $2,200 for 5 grams of pentobarbital for a March execution.  Prisons spokesman Carlo LoParo said the state had no alternative.

As states scrambled for fresh supplies, several turned to England and obtained doses of sodium thiopental not approved for medical use in this country by the FDA.  But that source dried up after the British government banned the drug's export for use in executions and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began seizing supplies of the drug from Georgia and other states over questions of whether the states broke the law to get it....

Some states without recent executions or any scheduled in the near future are also switching or considering a switch to pentobarbital in case the need arises, including Delaware, Oregon and Idaho.

Only two states, Ohio and Oklahoma, have used pentobarbital in executions.  Oklahoma uses it along with drugs that paralyze inmates, then stops their hearts.  Ohio uses one single dose of pentobarbital.

April 22, 2011 at 02:00 PM | Permalink


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Prison industries should begin the production of whatever lethal poisons the states choose. These execution substances are poisons, not medications designed to be safe and effective in the treatment of human illness. Neither of these fed thug organizations, the DOJ for the FDA nor the DEA has jurisdictions over the production of lethal poisons.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 22, 2011 11:22:00 PM

I'd say just start switching to the firing squad. The Supreme Court's already upheld its use (albeit in 1878). It's just not complicated.

Posted by: alpino | Apr 23, 2011 12:20:11 AM

I'll bet the DP opponents really enjoy all these problems the states are having. Abolitionists are hoping that they will get tired of jumping through all these hoops along with the financial cost of imposing it and repeal it. Only the states who don't have the guts or the intelligence on how to do it right would do that.

Posted by: DaveP | Apr 23, 2011 7:03:28 AM

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