| Sept 27
Sept 27 Tennessee said on Friday that it will
begin to use only pentobarbital to execute death row inmates
despite a shortage of the drug.
The state will use the single-drug lethal injection method
instead of the three-drug method it has used in the past,
according to Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman
"The Department of Correction had been unable to obtain the
chemicals necessary to carry out an execution since 2011 due to
a widespread shortage" of sodium thiopental, a drug used in the
three-drug method, Carter said.
Sodium thiopental puts the prisoner to sleep, with another
drug administered to paralyze the prisoner and a third to stop
In April 2011, Tennessee was among the states that turned
over its supplies of sodium thiopental to authorities after
concerns arose about how the supply of the drug was imported.
That move came after the company that produced sodium
thiopental had bowed to European Union pressure to stop making
the drug, creating a shortage. The death penalty has been
abolished in all EU nations.
The sodium thiopental shortage forced U.S. states to switch
Seven states currently use pentobarbital alone for
executions and more are planning to use it, according to Richard
Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information
Center, a non-profit organization that provides information on
capital punishment. Other states use it as part of the
three-stage execution process.
Pentobarbital also is commonly used during surgeries and by
veterinarians to euthanize animals.
"Given it's used by veterinarians and on humans for other
purposes, there's probably a lot out there. But if you have to
make a new order, it's hard to get for prisons," Dieter said.
Danish manufacturer Lundbeck and its American subsidiary,
Akorn, are controlling the distribution of pentobarbital "and
are not allowing its distribution if it is to be used for
executions," Dieter said.
Dieter said some states that had been using pentobarbital
were having to switch to other drugs or find new sources because
of the shortage.
"Everybody that used (sodium thiopental) has switched and
now they may have to switch again (from pentobarbital)," Dieter