Lethal drug shortage delays executions

LACKING enough of the anesthetic essential to the cocktail of lethal drugs administered during executions, several US states are being forced to postpone the procedure until early next year.

At the heart of the drug supply problem is Hospira, the only pharmaceutical company that produces the anesthetic sodium thiopental.

"We are working to get it back on the market and we anticipate we will by 2011," Hospira spokesman told AFP.

The US Food and Drug Administration does not approve the drug's use in lethal injections and Hospira does not sell it for that purpose, though prison officials make significant use of sodium thiopental in executions.

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