Death-Penalty Drug Import Ruled Illegal by Appeals Court
A drug used in some U.S. executions, sodium thiopental, can’t be imported into the country because it hasn’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled in a lawsuit filed by death row inmates.
The ruling upheld a lower-court decision that “permanently enjoined the FDA from allowing the importation of apparently misbranded or unapproved thiopental,” according to an opinion by Circuit Judge Douglas Ginsburg, writing for a three-judge panel.
The decision also blocked a second part of the lower-court ruling that required the FDA “to notify state correctional departments that the use of imported thiopental is unlawful and that existing stocks must be sent the FDA.”
The court can’t require states to turn in the drug to the FDA because they weren’t a party to the suit, Ginsburg wrote.
Six states -- Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee -- received shipments of sodium thiopental at issue in the complaint.
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