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January 25, 2011

Ohio swiftly announces change to drug to be used in its lethal injections

As detailed in this AP story, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction today announced  that it is "switching its lethal injection drug from a scarce anesthetic to one commonly used in surgery as a shortage of the drug normally used for executions has worsened."  Here are more details:

Beginning in March, the state execution team will use a single, powerful dose of pentobarbital, a drug sometimes used to induce surgical comas.  The drug replaces sodium thiopental, which was already scarce when its only U.S. manufacturer announced last week it would no longer produce it.

Ohio is following the lead of Oklahoma, which switched to pentobarbital last year and has since used it three times.  However, Ohio, which uses only a single dose of anesthetic to execute inmates, would become the first state to use pentobarbital alone, without two additional drugs that paralyze inmates and stop their hearts.

Ohio prison officials say the version of pentobarbital the state is adopting is a different type of the drug than one used by veterinarians to euthanize pets.  The prisons department said it will use its remaining supply of sodium thiopental for the scheduled execution Feb. 17 of Frank Spisak, who killed three people at Cleveland State University in 1982.

The first use of pentobarbital is planned for March's scheduled execution of Johnnie Baston of Lucas County, condemned to die for shooting the owner of a Toledo store in the back of the head during a 1994 robbery....

The state nearly ran out of the drug last spring and almost had to postpone an execution before obtaining some at the last moment.  Ohio has no more executions currently scheduled, but prosecutors have asked the Ohio Supreme Court to set additional dates for 14 men whose appeals are concluded....

States across the country have scrambled to find supplies of sodium thiopental after Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., the drug's lone U.S. manufacturer, stopped producing it more than a year ago....

Arizona, Arkansas, California and Tennessee are among states that found a supply of sodium thiopental in England, but that source dried up after the British government banned the drug's export for use in executions.  Earlier this month, Nebraska announced it had obtained 500 grams from a company in India.

January 25, 2011 at 07:03 PM | Permalink


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I'm always impressed at how quickly Ohio moves when it comes to these things.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jan 25, 2011 7:22:21 PM

Unfortunately, Florida is asleep at the wheel.

Posted by: DaveP | Jan 25, 2011 7:57:01 PM

Isn't it funny (by funny I mean strange) that sodium pentobarbital is used by the People's Republic of China for all of their judicial executions by lethal injection.

This country sure takes a lot of cue's from this group of communists lately.

Things that make you go....hmmmmmmmm?!?

Posted by: Book38 | Jan 26, 2011 12:20:15 AM

We used it first, the commies followed us.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jan 26, 2011 12:32:53 AM

I do enjoy how abolitionists always bring up Red China and Iran when discussing countries that, like the United States, have the death penalty. Oddly enough, they always seem to leave out retentionist countries with much less objectionable governments such as Japan, South Korea, India, Trinidad & Tobago, Singapore and Taiwan.

Posted by: alpino | Jan 26, 2011 3:41:31 AM

I think you are right when you say this. Hats off man, what a superlative knowledge you have on this subject…hope to see more work of yours.

Posted by: Health Blog | Jan 26, 2011 7:04:06 AM

@MikeinCT - The United States used sodium pentobarbital first?? I don't read that anywhere. Can you educate me?

@alpino - I don't leave those retentionist countries. I am merely making reference to the fact that America is trying to follow a communist country that the new world order wants us to emulate.

Also, I've been called many things but never an abolitionist. Thanks!! I'm glad to be of service to your children, your grandchildren and the United States in general. Because I know that if people like me don't keep a check on the government, the government will do ANYTHING they please.

And...executions have never been proven to reduce crime by any means. LWOP is a much better way to punish for a crime that deserves Capital Punishment.

Posted by: Book38 | Jan 26, 2011 8:23:29 PM

Executions most definitely reduce crime--if only to the extent that the inmate who's executed will certainly harm no else again.

Posted by: alpino | Jan 27, 2011 1:57:27 AM

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