Execution drugs spark controversy as supplies dwindle
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States is turning to new drugs for lethal injections as supplies of the current standard dwindle, sparking lawsuits from death row prisoners that the changes will cause undue suffering.
Two men were put to death on Wednesday in Texas and Arizona, using a lethal dose of an animal anaesthetic customised by a compounding pharmacy - which has not been approved at the federal level.
The two convicts tried to press the issue in court - in one case, all the way to the Supreme Court - arguing the untested drug risked subjecting them to "cruel and unusual punishment," forbidden under the Constitution.
The issue has been building at least since 2011, when the United States stopped producing the drug used since the introduction of lethal injections in the 1980s.