Drug shortage may put Texas executions on hold

State supply of pentobarbital running low


HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Officials with the Texas Department of Corrections in Huntsville say that the prison has only enough pentobarbital on hand for one more execution and that there are currently seven executions scheduled for this year.

"We are actively exploring all options at this point including the continued use of pentobarbital or an alternate drug or drugs to use in lethal injections," said prison spokesman Jason Clark.

He said that drug manufacturers have put restrictions in place making it difficult to purchase the drug. Some have stopped producing pentobarbital and manufacturers in Europe have banned U.S. prisons from purchasing the drug.

Other states are also facing shortages of the drug.

In Utah, the state senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would allow firing squads to execute condemned killers.

Clark said a change in how prisoners are executed in Texas would also require legislative action.

"Administratively, we can change the type of drugs that we use, but if we were to change the method, that is something that the legislature would have to decide," Clark said.

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