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Propofol Fuss Could Force Mo. Gov. To Choose Another Execution Method

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Getty/Mario Anzuoni-Pool

Getty/Mario Anzuoni-Pool

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) - Missouri still intends to use the popular anesthetic propofol for the next two executions, but the Department of Corrections has given back the rest of its supply of the drug, at the distributor’s request.

The U.S. distributor of propofol said it was shipped to the Missouri Department of Corrections by mistake. The drug has never been used in an execution, and Missouri’s plan to use it has prompted the anti-death penalty European Union to say it could limit the drug’s export. Nearly 90 percent of the U.S. supply comes from Europe.

State Senator Kurt Schaefer thinks this means Governor Nixon will have to ask lawmakers to approve another method of execution.

“It’s the obligation of the governor to basically have a mechanism by which to carry [executions] out,” Schaefer said.

Currently on the books there are two legal methods for the governor to use; lethal injection and lethal gas.

“What this issue has raised is the serious question of the viability of Propofol as a permanent or long term mechanism to carry out judgements of execution,” Shaefer said, adding that this probably shows that it’s not.

The state has scheduled executions for two death-row inmates: Allen Nicklasson on Oct. 23, and Joseph Franklin on Nov. 20. The executions would be the first in Missouri since the state dropped its three-drug execution method in favor of propofol in April 2012. The switch was made after the state couldn’t obtain its previously used drugs because makers began prohibiting their use in executions.

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