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ATLANTA – Prison officials around the country have been going to extraordinary — and in at least one case, legally questionable — lengths to obtain a scarce lethal-injection drug, securing it from middlemen in Britain and a manufacturer in India and borrowing it from other states to keep their executions on track, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press.
"You guys in AZ are life savers," California prisons official Scott Kernan emailed a counterpart in Arizona, with what may have been unintentional irony, in appreciation for 12 grams of the drug sent in September. "Buy you a beer next time I get that way."
The wheeling and dealing come amid a severe shortage of sodium thiopental, a sedative that is part of the three-drug lethal injection cocktail used by nearly all 34 death penalty states. The shortage started last year, after Hospira Inc., the sole U.S. manufacturer of the drug and the only sodium-thiopental maker approved by the Food and Drug Administration, stopped making it.