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TribBlog: TDCJ On the Hunt for Execution Drug

Texas officials have enough execution drugs to carry out the death sentences of two inmates scheduled for lethal injection in February. But they will have to find another sodium thiopental supplier or a different drug to use after March.

Hypodermic needles.

Texas officials have enough execution drugs to carry out the death sentences for two inmates scheduled for lethal injection in February. But they will have to find another sodium thiopental supplier or a different drug to use after March, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons. "We will have to explore some other options," Lyons said.

The Associated Press reported today that the only U.S. manufacturer of the lethal injection drug sodium thiopental is discontinuing the drug's production. According to the AP, Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., decided to switch manufacturing of the anesthetic from its North Carolina plant to a plant in Italy. But Italian authorities insisted the company guarantee the drug wouldn't be used in executions.

Lyons said Texas' supply of sodium thiopental — used to anesthetize a person before lethal drugs are injected — expires in March. The next execution after that, she said, isn't scheduled until May. The agency, she said, will have time to search for another manufacturer of sodium thiopental or to find an alternative drug. TDCJ could consider using alternative drugs that other states have used, Lyons said.

Last year, Oklahoma used the drug pentobarbital, which has been used in veterinary euthanasia, in the execution of an inmate.

Lyons said it's too soon to speculate on what the state will do if it can't find more sodium thiopental or another drug by May. "Really, at this point, we’ll be exploring all options," she said.

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