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Safety

Texas sues FDA over execution drug

by Glenn Hess, special to C&EN
January 9, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 2

Texas last week filed a lawsuit seeking to force FDA to decide whether the state may legally import thiopental sodium, a drug crucial to administering lethal injections. In July 2015, U.S. Customs agents, at FDA’s request, seized 1,000 vials of thiopental sodium at a Houston airport “for further analysis,” according to the court filing. The barbiturate has not been approved by FDA for injection into humans. But the Texas Department of Criminal Justice argues that importation is lawful for the purposes of carrying out death sentences. “FDA has an obligation to fulfill its responsibilities faithfully and in a timely manner,” says Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “My office will not allow FDA to sit on its hands and thereby impair Texas’ responsibility to carry out its law enforcement duties.” FDA says it does not comment on pending or ongoing litigation. Texas and other states have struggled for years to obtain lethal injection drugs as U.S. manufacturers have stopped producing them, and suppliers in Europe have prohibited their export due to opposition to the death penalty.

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