Imported death penalty drug to be tested by FDA

The anesthetic sodium thiopental purchased by California prison officials from a U.K. manufacturer will be tested by the FDA prior to use. It was shipped to the U.S. before the U.K. decided last month to constrain export of the drug to prevent its use in executions.

Counting the U.K. shipment, California says it has enough of the drug for 175 executions. More than 700 inmates populate death row in the Golden State.

Officials augmented their $36,000 purchase of 521 grams from Archimedes Pharma with 12 grams provided at no charge by the Arizona penal system.

Sodium thiopental has been in short supply in the U.S. due primarily to manufacturing delays at drugmaker Hospira, following an FDA warning for GMP violations at a North Carolina facility, as reported.  The company projects greater availability of the drug early next year.

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