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FDA has helped two states obtain anesthetic used in executions

Texas, with the country's busiest death chamber, has enough of the drug for 39 executions, but its supply expires in March, according to records obtained by the Associated Press through a public records request.

Missouri has said its dwindling supply will expire this year, too.

Death penalty opponents have argued that expired drugs could be less effective.

Virginia, which executed a woman in late September, had an expired batch in early August that it tried unsuccessfully to get the FDA to approve, according to e-mails obtained by the ACLU from the California prison system.

"They ran into brick wall when they tried this with the FDA," the California e-mail said.

Virginia executed the woman about six weeks later. It was unclear whether any expired drugs were used. A prisons spokesman declined to comment.

In early 2010, Tennessee shared its sodium thiopental with Georgia and Arkansas but scrambled by mid-year to find its own supply, with a fall execution pending.

In September, the warden of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, where Tennessee conducts executions, ordered sodium thiopental, apparently from a British company. It was delivered just days before a scheduled execution.

At least one state has managed to avoid the shortage by switching from sodium thiopental to pentobarbital, a drug commonly used to put animals to sleep. Oklahoma has conducted two executions with the new drug.

- Associated Press

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