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Texas may run out of death penalty drug
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Texas may run out of death penalty drug

State says it may not be able to carry out executions beyond June

  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry defends the state's record on executions during a Republican presidential debate in September.
    tpmtv screengrabTexas Gov. Rick Perry defends the state's record on executions during a Republican presidential debate in September.

Texas, the state that led America in the largest number of executions last year, might be running out of the lethal drug used to administer the death penalty, reported the Guardian.

The Guardian estimated that Texas will not be able to carry out any death sentences beyond June, because it only has enough of the drug pentobarbital – the middle step in the triple lethal injection – to carry out six more executions.

The Danish company Lundbeck, which manufactures pentobarbital under the name Nembutal, wrote to Gov. Rick Scott (R-Florida) in September 2011 urging that the drug not be used as an anesthetic in executions, according to The Washington Post. The president of the company, Staffan Schuberg, said that the use of the drug “contradicts everything Lundbeck is in business to do—provide therapies that improve people's lives.”

Executioners turned to the drug as an alternative after supply of the anesthetic sodium thiopental, produced by the U.S. company Hospira, was suspended “in protest at its use to kill people,” said the Guardian, in an older article.

On Feb. 9, the Associated Press reported that death row inmates from Arizona, Tennessee and California were suing to stop the Food and Drug Administration from importing sodium thiopental, since it is an unapproved drug. “The Obama administration argues it has discretion to allow unapproved drugs into the U.S. and wants Leon to dismiss the case.”

Texas’ number of executions is notoriously high and Gov. Rick Perry  defended its record during a debate in September, amid applause from the audience.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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