The only U.S. manufacturer of an anesthetic used for executions announced an end to production Friday. The move will likely delay executions and force states to find new drug combinations, a process that can be lengthy. Authorities in Italy, where North Carolina-based Hospira looked to manufacture the drug, said they wouldn’t let the drug be exported if it might be used in executions. Hospitals rarely use sodium thiopental as an anesthetic, so without the execution market, Hospira decided to halt production. “We cannot take the risk that we will be held liable by the Italian authorities if the product is diverted for use in capital punishment," said a company spokesman. States will likely follow Oklahoma, the only state that doesn’t use sodium thiopental, and change the combination of drugs they use, but the process can take time. In California, executions have already been on hold for five years while legal challenges to injection procedure are being sorted out.
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