The drug that’s given to inmates to put them out before they’re put to death has likely been used for the last time. Like Missouri, Texas uses sodium thiopental in executions. Timothy Wayne Adams died by lethal injection last night in Huntsville, Texas. He was executed for shooting his toddler point blank, for which he said he did to get back at his wife, who was leaving him. He says his intention was to shoot himself next.
Sodium thiopental renders the inmate unconcious as the first phase in the lethal injection process. Two subsequent injections stop the breathing and then the heart. However, Illinois-based drug company Hospira stopped marketing sodium thiopental and current supplies expire in March, leaving prison systems in a bind.
Jason Clark with the Department of Criminal Justice in Texas he’s confident his state will continue to carry out executions.
“At this time, we’re exploring all of our options including finding an alternate source for sodium thiopental, as well as finding an alternate drug to use.”
Clark says says their next execution is scheduled for April 5th, contributing to the sense of immediacy. Another one is set for May. On the average, Texas executes four times the amount of death-row inmates than any other state. More than 300 people are on death row in Texas, compared to Missouri’s 46.
Missouri used sodium thiopental in the execution of Martin Link earlier this month … it’s remaining three doses will go unused.
Attorney General Chris Koster has asked the federal government to help fill the demand for the drug. He’s joined by 12 other states in his request. Read the letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Joining Koster in the request are attorneys general from Oregon, Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Shurtleff, Bruce Salzburg, Delaware, Idaho, Tennessee, and Washington.
Kentucky has reportedly gotten a supply of the drug from a company in Georgia, but won’t be using it because the state has halted all executions pending a decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court.
It’s believed Kentucky’s supply came from Sandoz International GmbH in Germany, which markets generics company. It expires in May 2014.
Sandoz has indicated that it does not market sodium thiopental in the United States, nor does it plan to.
South Dakota and Nebraska corrections officials say they are working on acquiring sodium thiopental from a company in India. Nebraska now has enough of the drug for 166 executions because Kayem Pharmaceutical will only sell only in bulk.
The lethal injection protocol in Missouri, Texas, Kentucky and several other states — 36 in all — specifies that the inmate be injected with 3 grams of sodium thiopental, and once the inmate is found to be unsconcious, injected with 50 mg of pancuronium bromide, which causes paralysis and stops the breathing, followed by 240 milliequivalents of potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest.