The state of Texas is facing a delay in executions as the Supreme Court considers whether religious rights are being infringed upon. The case revolves around the use of a drug called pentobarbital, which was created to be used as an animal euthanasia solution and is now one of three drugs used in lethal injections. In 2011, Lundbeck Inc., the company that manufactures pentobarbital, put restrictions on its sale due to increasing pressure from death penalty opponents. These restrictions have made it difficult for states to get their hands on this essential ingredient for lethal injection, which has caused many delays in execution dates over recent years. Texas, as well as several other states, have now found a new supplier for this drug. However, the FDA has now objected to this newly imported pentobarbital from overseas.
The FDA released a statement which said Lundbeck and its distributor had failed to disclose that they were shipping the product for use in executions, which is used not identified in the labeling, and added, this product is misbranded because the labeling fails to bear the symbol ‘RX only’ a required drug identifier.
Texas law prohibits possessing or dispensing drugs for use in human executions, according to a statement released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
So what does this mean for Texas? The Supreme Court may address this issue and make a ruling before executions resume. However, even if they do not, Texas will likely be granted an exception to use foreign-sourced pentobarbital as it has in the past.
However, death penalty opponents are still pushing for other states to follow the same restrictions as Texas and not use this animal euthanasia solution for lethal injection.
The state of Texas has executed 13 men so far in 2013, which is more than any other state this year. They had planned to execute double that amount but have been delayed by court rulings and drug shortages. The next execution is scheduled for Wednesday, August 7, and is set to be conducted in Huntsville.
Death penalty opponents say this is inhumane and that the drug should be taken off of any market. The death penalty supporters state that if you are going to execute someone, then you need to supply them with the right tools.
This is just one problem Texas has had in recent years when it comes to executions. First, they were delayed by Hurricane Harvey, then the Supreme Court stopped them over questions about the death penalty, and now there is the issue with this drug.
What will happen next? This can be argued both ways, but hopefully, all of this just means that Texas will finally get justice for its residents.