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Shortage forces Texas to switch execution drug

Shortage forces Texas to switch execution drug
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 3:58pm

HOUSTON — Texas is changing one of the drugs used to conduct executions in the nation's busiest death penalty state due to a shortage of a sedative it's used for nearly three decades, officials said Wednesday.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials said they plan to substitute pentobarbital for sodium thiopental in the three-drug cocktail used for lethal injections. Pentobarbital, a surgical sedative, also is commonly used to euthanize animals and recently has been used for executions in Oklahoma.

A shortage of sodium thiopental has forced multiple states to scramble for substitutes. Texas has used the drug since becoming the first state to do lethal injections in 1982. Texas' supply of sodium thiopental expires at the end of this month and an execution is set for early April.

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