Federal authorities have confiscated shipments of a lethal-injection chemical that Arizona and Texas tried to bring in from abroad, saying such imports are illegal — a move that compounds the nation’s severe shortage of execution drugs.
The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it impounded orders of sodium thiopental, an anesthetic that has been used in past executions in combination with drugs that paralyze the muscles and stop the heart. The anesthetic currently has no legal uses in the U.S.
“Courts have concluded that sodium thiopental for the injection in humans is an unapproved drug and may not be imported into the country,” FDA spokesman Jeff Ventura said in a statement.
Arizona paid nearly $27,000 for the sodium thiopental, which federal agents intercepted when it arrived at the Phoenix airport in July, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Texas and FDA authorities gave fewer details about the confiscation there. Texas is the nation’s busiest death penalty state, with about 250 death row inmates and 530 executions carried out over the past four decades. It has not used sodium thiopental in recent years.