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Texas Will Switch Execution Drug Amid Shortage

Photo via Flickr user Andres Rueda.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials announced today that it will change one of the drugs in the three-drug cocktail used in executions in the state.

The drug sodium thiopental has been in short supply ever since the only U.S. manufacturers of the drug stopped production.

The state will instead use pentobarbital, a drug approved by the FDA for treatment of seizures and sedation.

The Associated Press reports this morning:

Texas has used the drug since becoming the first state to do lethal injections in 1982. The Texas supply of sodium thiopental expires at the end of this month and an execution is set for early April. Prison agency spokeswoman Michelle Lyons says the new drug has been used for executions in Oklahoma and has survived court challenges there.

Maurie Levin, one of the lawyers for Cleve Foster, who's scheduled to be executed on April 5, e-mailed a statement this morning, expressing outrage over the decision to alter the drug protocol.

The rush to execute should not trump the need to ensure that appropriate safeguards have been taken, or the far reaching implications of circumventing a deliberate process, especially when it is TDCJ that has waited until the last minute to decide on or announce the change in how it plans to carry out executions."

Levin said a lawsuit on the matter is likely.


Matt Largey is the Projects Editor at KUT. That means doing a little bit of everything: editing reporters, producing podcasts, reporting, training, producing live events and always being on the lookout for things that make his ears perk up. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mattlargey.
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