Ohio prison officials think they have found a way to potentially import an execution drug without running afoul of the federal Food and Drug Administration, reported the Columbus Dispatch.
In a letter sent today to the FDA, Stephen Gray, chief counsel of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, argued that if the state meets a series of five criteria, including that the drug, sodium thiopental, is from an FDA-registered source, then it is legal to import.
Ohio has not executed an inmate since Jan. 16, 2014, when Dennis McGuire struggled and gasped for several minutes before succumbing to a combination of drugs being used for the first time anywhere in the U.S.
The FDA in June warned state prison officials that the agency learned the state was trying to obtain bulk dosages of sodium thiopental, which is not available in the United States.
“Please note that there is no FDA-approved application for sodium thiopental, and it is illegal to import an unapproved new drug into the United States,” the FDA wrote.
The state did not follow through with a foreign drug purchase, and state officials responded today arguing that there is a legal way to import the drug under a 2012 court ruling.
“The responsibility to carry out lawful and humane executions when called upon by the courts to do so is enormous, and it is the responsibility that ODRC does not take lightly,” Gray wrote. “ To that end, ODRC has no intention of attempting to procure drugs for legal injection in a manner that would violate a proper interpretation of the (Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act).”
Gray wrote that he wants to start talks with the FDA to determine how to legally procure drugs for lethal injection.
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