Executions by lethal injection have been put on hold in several states because of a shortage of a key ingredient for the killer shot. Sodium thiopental—generally used to render the condemned unconscious before other drugs are injected, although Ohio and Washington use it to kill—is in short supply across the country, the AP reports. California plans to suspend executions after using the last of its supply for an execution later this week, and Kentucky's governor has delayed signing death warrants.
The drug's only US manufacturer, Hospira, blames the shortage on issues with the supply of raw materials and says new batches won't be ready until January at the earliest. At least one death penalty expert, however, is skeptical of the explanation, noting that the firm objects to its products being used for executions. The company "provides these products because they improve or save lives and markets them solely for use as indicated on the product labeling," a Hospira exec wrote in a letter to Ohio authorities earlier this year.
(Read more capital punishment stories.)