Texas nearly out of execution drug

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A lethal injection room at an unidentified prison. (File photo)

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TEXAS– Texas is nearly out of its lethal injection drug.

If scheduled executions this Wednesday and the next go forward, the state will have completely exhausted its supply of pentobarbital. “We’re exploring all options,” said Jason Clark, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, ” including the continued use of pentobarbital or an alternate drug(s) in the lethal injection process.”

In recent years, states across the country have struggled to maintain a supply of lethal injection drugs as manufacturers either stopped producing the drugs or barred their use in executions. The European manufacturers of pentobarbital, an anesthetic, explicitly banned U.S. prisons from using its drug in executions. Tennessee has said it will electrocute inmates if it can’t get the drugs it needs.

Other states have sought out substitutes or gone with one drug instead of the traditional three-drug cocktail.

In April, Oklahoma used midazolam as a substitute for pentobarbital as part of a three-drug cocktail in an execution that went awry. Clayton Lockett, a convicted rapist and murderer, writhed and convulsed after the drugs were administered. It took 43 minutes for him to die. Texas gets its pentobarbital from compounding pharmacies, which are not subject to Food and Drug Administration oversight, something opponents of the death penalty have decried.

The state leads the nation in the numbers of executions. Last year, it put to death 10 people. This year, it has executed three so far.

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux

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