Missouri switches to new execution drug

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Department of Corrections said Tuesday it is switching to a new lethal injection drug, less than two weeks after the governor halted executions until it could find a replacement for the anesthetic propofol.

The Corrections Department said in a news release that it will use the sedative pentobarbital. The Death Penalty Information Center said 13 states use the drug for executions.

The execution of Joseph Franklin on Nov. 20 is still on, the news release stated. Franklin was convicted of killing Gerald Gordon outside a St. Louis-area synagogue in 1977.

Nixon on Oct. 11 halted the execution of Allen Nicklasson, scheduled for Oct. 23, in part because the European Union was weighing export limits on propofol if it was used in an execution. Propofol is a widely used anesthetic and is mostly made in Europe. Nixon ordered a halt to all executions until the issue was resolved.

It wasn’t immediately clear how much pentobarbital Missouri has in supply. Messages seeking comment from Corrections Department spokesman David Owen were not immediately returned. Franklin’s attorney, Jennifer Herndon, also did not immediately respond to phone and email messages.

The department’s news release said it’s also adding a compounding pharmacy to its execution team. The pharmacy will be responsible for providing pentobarbital for executions. Typically, compounding pharmacists process ingredients to fit the needs of individual patients.

Texas and Ohio area among other states that have turned to compounding pharmacies to prepare new batches of pentobarbital after large drug manufacturers balked. Oklahoma was the first to use pentobarbital as a single execution drug.

It wasn’t clear if or when a new execution date would be set for Nicklasson, convicted of the 1994 killing of Excelsior Springs businessman Richard Drummond after Drummond stopped along Interstate 70 to help after a car carrying Nicklasson and two others became disabled. Another of the trio, Dennis Skillicorn, was executed in 2009.

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