FDA finalizes decision to keep impounded execution drugs from Texas justice system

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will not release an intercepted shipment of hundreds of doses of sodium thiopental — an anesthetic used in executions — purchased by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle.

The drugs, shipped by an unidentified foreign manufacturer, were seized by the FDA at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport in 2015, because they had not been approved by the agency for human use. The Texas department of justice subsequently filed a lawsuit against the FDA to force the agency to make decision as to whether or not to deliver the impounded drugs. The FDA filed documents in federal court April 20 stating it would not release the shipment to state officials.

U.S. drug manufacturers have long objected to the use of their products for the purposes of capital punishment. As these companies could not control how these products were used once introduced into the marketplace, many made the decision to take them out of the American market or cease making them entirely, according to the report. This has resulted in supply shortages of such drugs in states that impose the death penalty.

"It has taken almost two years for the FDA to reach a decision which we believe is flawed," TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said in a statement, according to the Chronicle. "TDCJ fully complied with the steps necessary to lawfully import the shipment. We are exploring all options to remedy the unjustified seizure."

In another story that's garnered national attention, Arkansas state authorities recently put plans into motion to execute eight inmates in 10 days in an effort to use the state's supply of sodium thiopental before the drugs' expiration date. Thus far, one of the executions has been carried out and four have been halted.

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