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FDA: Nebraska Governor Can't Import Execution Drug

Credit: Amnesty International

Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts says that last week's repeal of the Nebraska death penalty by the state's Legislature won't stop him from executing the 10 people still on Nebraska's death row.

Ricketts says the state will soon have the three drugs it needs to administer lethal injection that the state ordered earlier this month from a chemical supplier in India.

But late Friday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the state can’t legally import one of the drugs, an anesthetic called sodium thiopental.

“At this time, we have no indication, aside from media reports, that sodium thiopental has recently been imported into the United States by state officials or correctional systems,” said Jeff Ventura with the FDA. “With very limited exceptions, which do not apply here, it is unlawful to import this drug, and the FDA would refuse its admission into the United States.”

Nebraska's Republican controlled Legislature this week approved a law repealing the death penalty over the governor's veto. The law goes into effect in 90 days.

In the 18 other states that have repealed capital punishment, no death row inmates have been subsequently executed, said Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

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