Drug shortage delays some lethal injections

September 28th, 2010 by Staff

Source: The Washington Post — Some executions in the United States have been put on hold because of a shortage of one of the drugs used in lethal injections from coast to coast.

Several of the 35 states that rely on lethal injection are either scrambling to find sodium thiopental – an anesthetic that renders the condemned inmate unconscious – or considering using another drug. But both routes are strewn with legal or ethical roadblocks.

The shortage delayed an Oklahoma execution last month and led Kentucky’s governor to postpone the signing of death warrants for two inmates. Arizona is trying to get its hands on the drug in time for its next execution, in late October.

The sole U.S. manufacturer, Hospira Inc. of Lake Forest, Ill., has blamed the shortage on unspecified problems with its raw-material suppliers and said new batches of sodium thiopental will not be available until January at the earliest.

But at least one death penalty expert was skeptical of Hospira’s explanation, noting that the company has made it clear it objects to use of its drugs for executions. Hospira also makes the two other chemicals used in lethal injections.


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