Georgia rushes executions before execution drug expires

A story in The Guiardian claims that Georgia rushed to execute Andrew Allen Cook on Thursday and is likewise trying to execute Warren Hill before its supply of lethal injection drugs expire on March 1.

Georgia confirmed to the Guardian that its entire supply of pentobarbital expires on 1 March. The expiration date leaves the state in a quandary: it still has 93 men and one woman on death row, including Hill, but with no obvious means by which to execute them.

European pressure is behind the shortage of execution drugs.

The European commission, following unilateral action by the UK, has imposed restrictions on the export of medicines to all US corrections departments.

As a result of the European squeeze, Hospira, the only US manufacturer of sodium thiopental, an anaesthetic that was used widely in the triple cocktail of lethal injections, ceased production in 2011.

Because the shortage of sodium thiopental, states have switched to a single large injection of pentobarbital, but it too is in short supply as some manufacturers restrict its use to prevent it from being used as an execution drug.

As legal routes for the procurement of medical drugs have been successively shut down, several of the 33 states that still practice the death penalty have resorted to shady methods for acquiring them. Georgia was exposed in 2011 as having been one of the states that bought lethal injection drugs from Dream Pharma, an unlicensed company that operated out of a driving school in west London.

South Dakota apparently used a batch of pentobarbital procured from a local pharmacy to execute Eric Robert, but it it was discovered to contaminated with fungus.