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Ohio to switch to 1 drug in executions

Associated Press / November 14, 2009

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio yesterday became the first state to adopt a procedure for lethal injections that uses one drug, a method never before tried on US inmates.

The state filed papers in US District Court saying it has decided to switch from a three-drug cocktail to a single injection of thiopental sodium into a vein. A separate two-drug muscle injection will be available as a backup.

The decision was made two months after an Ohio death row inmate walked away from an unsuccessful execution and subsequent executions were put on hold.

Several states have faced similar challenges, but Ohio is the first to drop the three-drug approach in favor of one dose.

Richard Dieter, director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, said the method has never been attempted on humans but has been used to euthanize animals.

“They’re not willingly part of this,’’ he said of the inmates. “This is experimenting with the unknown, and that always raises concerns.’’

The US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection last year, but Ohio’s new system is substantially different from the three-drug process the court examined. In its ruling, the court noted that the single-drug method had never been tested and wasn’t being used anywhere.