State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

PA apparently untouched by lethal injection drug shortage elsewhere

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 27, 2014 11:55 PM
Thumbnail image for executionSCIrockview.jpg

Photo by ACLU legal brief, from www.portal.state.pa.us


While other states face a shortage of lethal injection drugs used in executions, Pennsylvania's supply isn't a problem, corrections agency officials say.

A nationwide shortage of the drugs comes as more pharmacies that custom-mix dosages for clients opt not to provide execution drugs due to negative publicity, as well as legal and ethical concerns.

Pennsylvania gets its trio of lethal injection drugs from such pharmacies, and is facing an active federal class-action challenge to its execution protocol. But Corrections Department spokeswoman Susan McNaughton said, according to the agency's secretary, John Wetzel, the drugs are still readily available.

"We have not had any problems obtaining the drugs in the past and we don't expect that we would encounter any problems obtaining the drugs in the future," McNaughton said.

Drug supply isn't an urgent issue right now. A U.S. judge granted a stay of execution for 55-year-old Stephen Rex Edmiston, whose death warrant was signed by Gov. Corbett last week. Edmiston was convicted 25 years ago for killing a toddler.

1999 marked the last time a person was executed in Pennsylvania. As of the fourth of February, 190 people were listed on death row in the state.

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