Even as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said it’s nearly out of its lethal injection drug pentobarbital, the agency has stockpiled the sedative midazolam, which could be part of a backup execution method in Texas, reports the Texas Tribune. That drug is at the center of a legal challenge in Oklahoma before the U.S. Supreme Court. The state obtained 40 vials of midazolam last summer that will not expire until next year. Several states use midazolam as the first in a series of drugs injected into an inmate during an execution.
“We’re exploring all options,” agency spokesman Jason Clark said. The state has only enough pentobarbital for two executions scheduled for this month. Today, Mexican Mafia hitman Manuel Vasquez, 46, is scheduled to be put to death for the ordered killing of a woman. On March 18, Randall Mays is set to die for fatally shooting two police officers. Texas is the latest state to announce it has a pentobarbital shortage. South Carolina ran out of pentobarbital in 2013. “This is a nationwide issue that departments of corrections are faced with.” Clark said of the diminished pentobarbital supply in Texas, a drug officials switched to in 2012 after drug shortages forced abandonment of a three-drug protocol.