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February 10, 2011

States asking feds for help in acquiring execution drugs

As detailed in this CNN piece, which is headlined "13 states ask for federal help on execution drug shortage," states are now looking to the feds for help with their lethal injection woes. Here are some details:

The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing a request from 13 states on how to acquire an execution drug no longer made in the United States and whether the federal government would share its supplies, a federal spokeswoman said Wednesday....

The U.S. shortage of sodium thiopental, also used as an anesthetic for brief surgical procedures, may force states to postpone executions and has forced them to look outside the country for a supply or come up with alternatives.  Those substitutes haven't been without controversy.  In December, Oklahoma used an anesthetic commonly used to euthanize animals to execute John David Duty for killing a cellmate.

Additional controversy surfaced last week about the drug's shortage when six death row inmates filed a federal lawsuit seeking to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from importing the drug, saying the imports may be unsafe.

In a letter last month to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the attorneys general in 13 states said injection is the execution method in the majority of states with a death penalty, and protocols in those states use sodium thiopental, "an ultra-short-acting barbiturate."

"Sodium thiopental is in very short supply worldwide and, for various reasons, essentially unavailable on the open market," the letter said.  "For those jurisdictions that have the drug available, their supplies are very small -- measured in a handful of doses.  The result is that many jurisdictions shortly will be unable to perform executions in cases where appeals have been exhausted and governors have signed death warrants.

"Therefore, we solicit your assistance in either identifying an appropriate source for sodium thiopental or making supplies held by the federal government available to the states," the letter said....

Oregon is one of the 13 states signing the letter and has run out of the execution drug, said spokesman Tony Green of the Oregon Department of Justice.  "It's pretty straightforward.  We don't have a supply of the drug so we're looking for sources for them should we need them," Green said....

The other states signing the letter are Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Texas, which wasn't part of the letter, performs the most executions in the country and is also facing a shortage of the drug, said spokesman Jason Clark of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

February 10, 2011 at 10:11 AM | Permalink


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The meth manufacturers with any chemistry background can produce this simple molecule, to very high street standards. This would be a non-trivial, non-make work, and highly lucrative prison industry, exempt from FDA oversight because it is to be used as a poison, not with any health claims. This is 19th Century technology:

The most popular sleeping pills of the early twentieth century were the barbiturates. The barbiturates comprise a huge class of drugs with at least 25,000 known compounds. Of these compounds, about 50 were or are marketed as prescription drugs. The forebear of the barbiturates was actually discovered in the mid-nineteenth century. A Prussian chemist, Adolf von Baeyer, is credited with inventing and naming barbituric acid in 1863 or 1864. He created the acid out of a compound of malonic acid and urea. On the day of his discovery, Baeyer is said to have gone to a nearby tavern to celebrate. Some sources say it happened to be the feast of St. Barbara that day; others say the barmaid was named Barbara. In any case, he named the compound barbituric acid. In itself, barbituric acid was useless. In 1903, a student of Baeyer's, along with another German chemist, produced a new compound out of barbituric acid and a diethyl derivative. The new chemical, given the trade name Veronal, was an excellent sedative and sleep aid. Other researchers came up with more barbituric acid derivatives. The most widely used was phenobarbital. Many European and American pharmaceutical companies came up with new barbiturates in the 1920s and 1930s. The Eli Lilly Company produced the widely used Amytal and Seconal, and Abbott Laboratories invented Pentothal.

Read more: How sleeping pill is made - material, manufacture, making, history, used, procedure, steps, product, machine, History, Raw Materials, Design, The Manufacturing Process of sleeping pill http://www.madehow.com/Volume-7/Sleeping-Pill.html#ixzz1DhiSViHL

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 11, 2011 8:33:44 PM

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