Updated: Inmates cite unknown pain from propofol in effort to stay executions

As states scramble to figure out what to do about the loss of one of three drugs usually used in a cocktail for executions, death row inmates in Missouri are fighting proposed plans for using the sedative propofol instead.

The Associated Press says that documents filed by 6 of 19 inmates facing execution are raising questions about use of the sedative, the same one implicated in the death of pop star Michael Jackson. A number of companies market propofol. States have been trying to find alternatives after the maker of sodium thiopental said it would not sell the drug for executions.

Fifteen state attorneys general recently wrote to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asking his department to appeal a court decision barring non-FDA-approved versions of sodium thiopental from the U.S. The states want to be able to import the drug now that FDA-approved products are no longer made; inmates sued to challenge those imports. A shortage of that FDA approved drug came after Hospira ($HSP) decided to stop making sodium thiopental, which is used as part of the three-drug cocktail. The company stopped production in the U.S. after some manufacturing issues arose and plans to make in Italy ran into resistence. The decision was bemoaned by the American Society of Anesthesiologists who says the drug was important drug in their treatment arsenal, even as the deicision was applauded by those who oppose capital punishment. 

A Missouri Supreme Court Justice tells the AP that the court has not been given notice of a change in the proposed execution method. But in filings for one Missouri inmate seeking a stay of execution, the attorney noted plans for the single drug execution and raised objections because of reports that it can cause pain. The filing says Missouri intends for executions to use 15 times the normal dose. 

- read the AP story in STLToday