Virginia Execution Features New Lethal Mixture

Thursday, 18 Aug 2011 11:02 AM

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A Virginia inmate scheduled to be executed tonight could become the first in the state to be killed with a new mix of drugs. Jerry Terrell Jackson’s execution would be the first to use pentobarbital as part of a three-drug execution, The Washington Post reported.

lethal inection, virginia acksonThe state had used sodium thiopental as the first drug until its manufacturer stopped making it. Since then states switched to pentobarbital, a move that so distressed the drug’s Danish manufacturer that the company blocked shipments used for executions. However, Virginia purchased five shipments of the drug before manufacturer Lundbeck imposed its restrictions, the Post reported.

The company has sent letters to all 34 of the states that use lethal injection objecting to the drug’s use in executions. Purchasers of the drug are now required to sign forms stating that they will not redistribute it without the company’s approval, Lundbeck spokesman Matt Flesch told the Post.

Flesch said the company cannot “ensure the safety and efficacy of pentobarbital in lethal injection.” The drug, which represents 1 percent of Lundbeck’s sales, is used to treat conditions including a form of epilepsy, the Post reported.

Typically, three drugs have used in lethal injections, sodium thiopental to render the person unconscious, pancuronium bromide to paralyze muscles and arrest breathing, and potassium chloride to stop the heart.

The 30-year-old Jackson was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of an 88-year-old woman in 2001. Jackson’s request for clemency was rejected by Gov. Robert McDonnell, R-Va., but the Supreme Court could issue a stay, the Post reported.



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