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Group targets drug Ga. to use in execution

Associated Press / June 21, 2011

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ATLANTA — A civil rights group, seeking to halt an execution, filed a complaint yesterday asking Georgia’s medical board to revoke the license of a physician who participates in lethal injections, claiming he illegally imported a drug and sold it to prison officials in Tennessee and Kentucky.

The filing by the Southern Center for Human Rights asks Georgia’s Composite Medical Board to revoke the license of Dr. Carlo Musso over his role in importing sodium thiopental, a hard-to-get sedative used in the three-drug lethal injection combination. Musso has participated in several executions in Georgia, and the complaint comes as the state prepares to execute an inmate on Thursday using a substitute drug for the first time.

The complaint raises fresh questions about how states obtained sodium thiopental amid the supply shortage, claiming that Musso ran afoul of the law by importing the drug from overseas manufacturers without first registering with state regulators.

Musso could not immediately be reached for comment. He has denied selling drugs across state lines.

Many of the nation’s 34 death penalty states have scrambled to find a new supplier of sodium thiopental after Hospira Inc., its sole manufacturer in the United States, said in January it would no longer make the drug. Several states postponed executions amid the shortage, and most have switched or are considering switching to pentobarbital.

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