States to Consider New Execution Drugs

7 years 2 months 3 weeks ago Monday, April 25 2011 Apr 25, 2011 Monday, April 25, 2011 7:25:00 PM CDT April 25, 2011 in News
By: Jennifer Meckles

MISSOURI - Missouri and other pro-death penalty states are looking for alternatives to lethal injection drugs, as current supplies across the country expire and new orders are not filled.

Most states used a sedative drug during executions, called sodium thiopental. The drug induces unconsciousness and was either used in a multi-drug "cocktail," or alone in large quantities.

Hospira, Inc -- the sole U.S. manufacturer provider of sodium thiopental -- decided to halt production in 2009. The drug only has a shelf life of about 2 years, and states are now running very low.

Some European countries manufacture the sodium thiopental, but are suspicious to grant U.S. requests to use it for lethal injections.

Attorneys for an Alabama death row inmate scheduled to be executed in less than a month have asked the U.S. attorney general to investigate whether the state illegally obatained its supply of a key execution drug.

Attorneys for Jason Oric Williams say Alabama obtained its sodium thiopental from Tennessee, and Tennessee's supply has been seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration because of concerns it was obtained illegally from overseas.

Alabama prisons spokesman Brian Corbett declined to coment about the letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder or claims the state bought sodium thiopental from Tennessee.

The attorneys asked Holder to prevent the state from using the drug to kill Williams. He is scheduled to die May 19, 2011.

Oklahoma came under fire in 2010 when the state switched to another sedative, Pentobarbital. That drug is commonly used to euthanize animals. Pentobarbital is readily available in the United States, and is manufactured by a company in Illionis.

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