A worldwide shortage of a drug used in lethal-injection procedures could jeopardize future executions in Arizona, reports the Arizona Republic. The shortage became evident last week during a federal court hearing in Ohio. There, an Arizona-based federal public defender told the court that Ohio had admitted it did not have enough of the drug, thiopental sodium, to carry out an execution later that week. According to court transcripts, attorney Dale Baich asked if the state would call off the execution if it did not find an ample supply. By the end of the day, the state had found an alternative source for the drug, and the execution was carried out as planned on Thursday.
The shortage could affect Arizona as well, just as it is poised to resume executions after three years and a long court battle to establish a constitutionally acceptable method of lethal injection. The Arizona Department of Corrections does not have a stockpile of the drug. The drugs for execution are ordered when a death warrant is received. A spokesman for Chicago-based Hospira, the sole U.S. company that manufactures thiopental sodium, said that because of an unspecified “manufacturing issue,” they cannot provide the drug. The spokesman said the company expected the drug to available later in the summer.