texas execution Judge Blocks Importation Of Drug Used In Execution

Texas death chamber execution gurney. (credit: AP)

WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – A federal judge has blocked the importation of a drug used in executions on grounds the Food and Drug Administration ignored the law by allowing it into this country.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington sided with lawyers for death row inmates in Tennessee, Arizona and California who wanted to keep out the drug, sodium thiopental, because it is an unapproved drug manufactured overseas.

The Obama administration argued it had discretion to allow unapproved drugs into the U.S. But Leon said the FDA acted “contrary to law.”

Sodium thiopental is an anesthetic used to put inmates to sleep before other lethal drugs are administered.

The drug’s U.S. manufacturer announced last year that it would no longer produce it, forcing corrections officials to delay many executions.

Texas is using pentobarbital as one of the three drugs in its lethal injection process because of a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental. Texas has used the drug since becoming the first state to do lethal injections in 1982.

So far in 2012, Texas has executed three men, including the ringleader of the notorious ‘Texas 7’, and there are seven more executions scheduled for the rest of the year.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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