UK Blocks Export of Popular Execution Drug to US

Thiopental sodium can't be exported for use in executions
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2010 1:01 PM CST
The UK will ban the export of an anesthetic if it is to be used in US executions.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

(Newser) – Soon, the US will no longer be able to execute criminals using thiopental sodium from the UK. The UK government will issue an order requiring suppliers of the anesthetic to obtain a license before exporting to the US—and if there is a risk it will be used in executions, that license will be denied, a spokesperson tells the Wall Street Journal. The only US supplier of the drug is experiencing a shortage, causing states to scramble—Oklahoma recently got approval to use an animal euthanasia drug on humans.

The move comes after condemned Tennessee inmate Edmund Zagorski filed a lawsuit in the UK’s High Court asking the country to ban the export of the drug; Tennessee allegedly ordered the thiopental to be used on Zagorski from a foreign source. Other states, including California and Arizona, are presumed to have ordered supplies of the drug from overseas. The UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said in a court filing that the decision is meant "to underline the United Kingdom's moral opposition to the death penalty."

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