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Thiopental Sodium Shortage May Delay Executions in AZ

A shortage in thiopental sodium, the drug used in lethal injection procedures may put executions in Arizona on hold a while longer.

Executions were set to resume after three years and a period of legal wrestling over an acceptable method of lethal injection, but a worldwide shortage of thiopental sodium may cause delay, the Arizona Republic reports.

Hospira, the sole U.S. company that manufactures thiopental sodium does not expect more of the product to be manufactured and available until July 1 and September 30.

That means that the execution of convicted murderer Richard Lynn Bible, who raped and killed a 9-year-old girl in Flagstaff in 1988, may not be carried out in June, as scheduled.

In Arizona, official execution procedure requires that drugs for execution are not ordered until the death warrant is received.

The Arizona Supreme Court will discuss whether to issue a death warrant for Bible. If approved, his execution remains scheduled for June, but he can't be executed without thiopental sodium.

Arizona's last execution was in May, 2007.

Thiopental sodium is one drug used in Arizona's three-drug cocktail death penalty procedures.

Over the years, many states have resisted changing the three-drug procedure, which has been in place since 1970.

But as previously discussed, thiopental sodium is the same drug the state of Ohio solely depends on in its new single shot lethal injection.

The drug is an anesthetic and also administered during Caesarean sections  and animal euthanasia.

Anesthesiologists can substitute one drug for another, but executioners cannot because their protocols have been hammered out through litigation.

There are about 35 states that use lethal injection.