Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ohio Switches Execution Drug

Ohio is switching its lethal injection protocol to a single powerful dose of pentobarbital an anesthetic commonly used to put pets to sleep, reported the Associated Press.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says the state will use pentobarbital as a shortage of sodium thiopental, the drug normally used for executions, has worsened. The only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental announced last week it would no longer produce the drug.

Back in November I predicted that Ohio would be the first state to seek sodium thiopental from an international source or use an alternative drug, I was wrong on both counts-but close. It appears that Ohio will be the second state to use an alternative drug, pentobarbital. However, Ohio will be the first state to use pentobarbital as part of a single drug protocol.

In 2009, Ohio became the first state to use a single drug protocol for purposes of lethal injection. Washington has followed suit. However, the other 33 states with the death penalty still use a three drug protocol. Only Oklahoma has switched to pentobarbital as part of their three drug protocol.

Ohio will use its remaining supply of sodium thiopental for the scheduled execution February 17 of Frank Spisak, who killed three people at Cleveland State University in 1982.

The first use of pentobarbital is planned for March's scheduled execution of Johnnie Baston of Lucas County.

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