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New York Times states ‘executions in doubt in fallout over drug’

Sodium thiopental

Sodium thiopental

From today’s New York Times:

The worldwide shortage of a drug used in executions reverberated this week in two of the most active death-penalty states as Texas announced it would replace the anesthetic in its three-drug regimen and federal agents seized Georgia’s supply.The seizure on Tuesday of the powerful barbiturate — sodium thiopental — at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, site of the state’s death row, has at least temporarily blocked future executions, although none are now scheduled.

In Texas, where the administrative change was announced Wednesday, lawyers for an inmate scheduled to die next month are preparing to challenge the substitution of the new drug.

The moves in both states continue the fallout from the January announcement that Hospira Inc., the only American producer of sodium thiopental, had stopped making the anesthetic. The shortages began after the company suspended production in 2009 because of problems obtaining an ingredient. They now have become dire because the drug’s shelf life is typically no more than two years.

Kentucky, of course, got its supply of sodium thiopental from Georgia.

Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia

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