Paxton sues FDA for delaying import of death penalty drug

Ken Paxton in his "I'm standing and fighting!" video posted to YouTube (Ken Paxton Campaign Photo)
Ken Paxton in his "I'm standing and fighting!" video posted to YouTube (Ken Paxton Campaign Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Tuesday his office has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for delaying the state’s importation of a drug used in capital punishment.

The lawsuit argues the FDA’s claimed legal grounds for refusing the drugs’ entry into the United States are invalid, citing an FDA exemption for law enforcement purposes.

Thiopental sodium, also known as Sodium thiopental, is part of the three-drug cocktail used in lethal injections.

In its December newsletter, the Council of State Governments said, while Texas has 317 inmates on death row, it only has enough of a key lethal injection drug to execute two of them, stemming from a nationwide shortage of the drug.

The Attorney General’s Office is asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to declare the FDA’s delay unlawful and compel the agency to make a final decision on the admissibility of the drug, which was detained by the FDA 17 months ago.

“There are only two reasons why the FDA would take 17 months to make a final decision on Texas’ importation of thiopental sodium: gross incompetence or willful obstruction,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The FDA has an obligation to fulfill its responsibilities faithfully and in a timely manner. My office will not allow the FDA to sit on its hands and thereby impair Texas’ responsibility to carry out its law enforcement duties.”

In April 2016, KXAN reported that the FDA blocked an appeal to bring in Sodium thiopental.

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