America runs out of lethal injection drug

But court gave the go-ahead to use a 'non-approved' foreign-made drug on Death Row inmate

Arizona has executed a convicted murderer by lethal injection in a case that stirred controversy after it emerged that one of the drugs being used to end the inmate's life was obtained in Britain.

Jeffrey Landrigan, convicted of the murder of Chester Dean Dyer in 1989, was pronounced dead at 10:26 p.m. local time (0526 GMT on Wednesday) at a state prison in Florence, southeast of Phoenix, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections said.

The US Supreme Court yesterday cleared the way for the execution, after a federal judge had previously granted a stay and asked to know where the dose of sodium thiopental came from.

The drug is used to render a condemned prisoner unconscious. It is an anaesthetic, and is the first of a sequence of three drugs administered in lethal injection that paralyze breathing and stop the heart.

Arizona has no stock of the drug. The state's attorney general, Terry Goddard, sparked controversy on Monday when he said it had been imported from Britain, although he declined to name the supplier. Britain outlawed the death penalty, and has not carried out an execution since 1964.

Lawyers for Landrigan had argued the drug might not meet US drug standards if it was obtained abroad, and risked causing serious pain and suffering in violation of the US Constitution. But the court ruled there was no evidence of something being wrong with the UK-sourced drug.

Landrigan, 50, was sentenced to death in 1990 for strangling Dyer, who was found dead by a co-worker on Dec. 15, 1989, after he failed to show up for work.

He was the 24th person executed in Arizona since the state resumed capital punishment in 1992. There are 132 inmates on the state's death row.

Sapa-AFP reports that only one pharmaceutical company in the United States, Hospira, currently manufactures sodium thiopental, but it is out of stock and will not be able to resume production until the first quarter of 2011.


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