The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has told the Texas Department of Criminal Justice it is tentatively barred from importing a drug used in executions, according to department spokesman Jason Clark. 

Clark said the FDA sent a letter to the department on April 15 informing it of the tentative ban on importing sodium thiopental. 

The department is reviewing the decision and, "exploring its options moving forward regarding the lawful importation of drugs used in the lethal injection process," Clark said.

Texas has been struggling to obtain the drug used in the execution of Death Row inmates. Last year, Buzzfeed reported that Texas and Arizona were attempting to import the drug from India, although the FDA stopped the shipments. 

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The Statesman first reported the ban on Tuesday and said it came after Texas appealed the FDA seizure last summer. Clark declined to comment on specifics of the FDA's letter. 

Texas has relied on various drug combinations to create the lethal concoction used for executions after the European Union issued various restrictions on the export of drugs used in execution and U.S. manufacturers began cutting off suppliers. 

In an effort to prevent harassment and threats aimed at domestic manufacturers of the drug, the Texas Legislature approved a measure that would keep the names of execution drug providers from the public. 

"Discussion in the public area has led to a chilling effect for companies who want to supply this compound to the state of Texas," said state Sen. Joan Huffman, the bill's author, in May. "There are very few doses left of the drug that’s currently being administered." 

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