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Missouri announces new execution drug


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Corrections issued a brief statement today announcing it added a new compounding pharmacy to produce lethal injections using the drug pentobarbital after canceling the execution that was set to use propofol — which gained coverage in both national and European media outlets.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced on Oct. 11 the state was postponing the execution of convicted killer Allen Nicklasson, which had been scheduled for Wednesday. The announcement came after mounting pressure domestically and abroad that the first ever execution using the common surgical anesthetic could cause European manufacturers of the drug to pull it from U.S. markets

Missouri announced last spring that it intended to use propofol to execute criminals for the first time after producers of the then-standard three-drug execution cocktail announced they were ceasing the production of the drug. Other states, such as Texas and Florida, have been searching for an alternative for lethal injections. In Missouri, Attorney General Chris Koster made headlines a few months ago when he said Missouri would be forced to go back to the gas chamber — the only other type of execution permitted by state law — if they weren’t able to use propofol.

Pentobarbital is a barbiturate and it is widely used to euthanize domestic animals.

The next execution — that of Joseph Paul Franklin — is scheduled for Nov. 20 and will be using the pentobarbital in place of propofol. Franklin was sentenced to death for the 1977 murder of Gerald Gordon in St. Louis.

Department of Corrections officials did not respond to requests for a comment.