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Officials: Texas 'running out' of execution drug pentobarbital

  1. SmokeTwibz

    The nation's most active death penalty state is running out of its execution drug.

    The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Thursday that its remaining supply of pentobarbital expires in September and that no alternatives have been found.

    It wasn't immediately clear whether two executions scheduled for next month would be delayed. The state has already executed 11 death-row inmates this year, and at least seven more have execution dates in coming months.

    "We will be unable to use our current supply of pentobarbital after it expires," agency spokesman Jason Clark said. "We are exploring all options at this time."

    Texas switched to the lethal, single-dose sedative last year after one of the drugs used in its three-drug execution process became difficult to obtain and the state's supply expired.

    Other death-penalty states have encountered similar problems after some drug suppliers barred the drugs' use for executions or have refused, under pressure from death-penalty opponents, to sell or manufacture drugs for use in executions.

    No executions in Texas were delayed because of that shortfall.

    "When Texas raises a flag that's it having a problem, obviously numerically it's significant around in the country because like they're doing half the executions in the country right now," Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death penalty organization, said Thursday.

    "The states really scramble to go all over to get drugs," he added. "Some went overseas, some got from each other. But these manufacturers, a number them are based in Europe, don't want to participate in our executions. So they've clamped down as much as they can," Dieter said.

    Some death penalty states, most recently Georgia, have announced they're turning to compounding pharmacies, which make customized drugs that are not scrutinized by the Federal Drug Administration, to obtain a lethal drug for execution use.

    Missouri wants to use propofol, the anesthetic blamed for pop star Michael Jackson's 2009 death — even though the drug hasn't been used to execute prisoners in the U.S. Its potential for lethal injection is under scrutiny by the courts and its first use isn't likely anytime soon. The Missouri Supreme Court has declined to allow execution dates to be set in that state until the legal issues are resolved.

    Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster recently suggested that if a suitable execution drug can't be found, the state should consider the gas chamber. State law still allows for execution by lethal gas, though Missouri no longer even has a gas chamber.

    A return to the gas chamber or electric chair anywhere would be difficult, Dieter suggested.

    "Those things just raise the spectacle level and I don't think it's where states want to go," he said.

    Pentobarbital, which has been used alone or in concert with other drugs in all executions in the U.S. the past two years, was more readily available because it was commonly used as a sedative.

    "But I guess restrictions have been put on its distribution," Dieter said. "It's uncertain where all of this goes because it's inherently a medical kind of procedure involving some health professionals who are largely focused on keeping people alive. It runs into contradictions with executions — people strapped to a table. Executions aren't exactly what the medical model is."

    Texas has by far executed more inmates than any other state in the U.S. since the Supreme Court allowed executions to resume. Since 1982, six years after the high court's order, Texas has executed 503 inmates. Virginia is a distant second at 110.

    August 02, 2013
    Micheal Graczyk | The Associated Press

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  1. Docta
    This just demonstrates the fundamental barbaric nature of state sanctioned homicide. Attorney General Chris Koster is more interested in the public relations blow back from the spectacle of a return to the gas chamber then his states obligation under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution "that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity," and this from the top legal advisor to the government. How do you get through to that kind of mentality?

    It defies belief that a 21st century Democratic society can call themselves leaders on human rights when they carry out capital punishment. The way in which this subject matter is covered here with such a blasé matter of fact attitude is sickening beyond words. Reports of delays to schedules and supply problems like its some kind of assembly line. And they wonder why the pharmaceutical manufactures in Europe have such disdain for these scumbags and there killing in the name of attitude.
  2. RichInMethadonia
    What I really don't get is why dosent a doctor order a nice fat supply of the Pentobarbital for the state to use in executions? Drug companies don't ask doctors what their use for medication is so it wont be denied from companies who oppose the death penalty or don't want their product being used in executions.

    It seems weird that the company asks what their Pentobarbital is going to be used for at the time of the purchase...........
  3. Docta
    Well the thing there up against here is doctors don't go round writing prescriptions for people that aren't sick. We're not talking about a scrip for a box or two of Nembutal here someone needs to put in a production order for a near obsolete highly scrutinized medication. You can't just ring them up and order 5 liters of this drug and not expect to raze an eyebrow, there not stupid question will be asked.
  4. RichInMethadonia
    Docta- Yeah, that makes sense that the doctors don't just go writing prescriptions for people who aren't sick...... It just seems odd to me. Pentobarbital is a very widely used drug not only for Lethal Injections but also for Animal Euthanasia by veternarians (Along with Sodium Thiopental aka "Truth Serum") so it must just be that the drug companies don't want to sell it for use in human lethal injections because it dosent seem like vets ever run short and they euthanize a lot more animals compared to people, I guess animals would need less but I think they still use a large amount on them.

    If the drug companies wont sell them their branded Pentobarbital than the state should start purchasing bulk Pentobarbital powder and have it compounded by a reputable place.

    Or maybe they should just use a different drug altogether? But I guess if they did that than the companies may stop selling them whatever replacement drug they use.

    They may have to find another way to start executing prisoners or just stop it altogether.
  5. ex-junkie
    I can't believe capital punishment still exists in the western world. It's time to move forwards. Two wrongs don't make a right.
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