There’s been a great deal of news lately regarding a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental, the anesthetic used in lethal injections. Hospira Inc. is the only U.S. company that manufacturers this drug, and it has blamed the shortage on unspecified problems with its raw-material suppliers. According to a company spokesman, new supplies of the drug will not be available until early next year (if then).
The shortage has led some states to postpone executions as their supplies of sodium thiopental dwindle or expire. In Texas, however, it’s business as usual. Officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have stated that they have plenty of sodium thiopental on hand to proceed with the three currently scheduled executions, though they have refused to disclose exactly how much they have stockpiled.
In an interesting twist to this story, the company that manufacturers sodium thiopental has expressed reservations about its use in the lethal injection protocol. Here’s more from the Associated Press:
Last spring, Hospira, a publicly traded company, sent a letter to all states outlining its discomfort with the use of its drugs for executions, as it has done periodically.
‘Hospira provides these products because they improve or save lives and markets them solely for use as indicated on the product labeling,’ Kees Groenhout, clinical research and development vice president, said in a March 31 letter to Ohio, obtained by the AP. ‘As such, we do not support the use of any of our products in capital punishment procedures.’