Desperately seeking a drug that would allow them to execute a death row inmate last fall, California prison officials scoured the nation for a dose of it, calling dozens of hospitals, local surgery centers, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other states for help, newly released documents show.
The documents, released late Tuesday as a result of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, reveal new details of how California sought to cajole the governor of Texas to lend the state a supply of sodium thiopental. At one point, California considered buying a batch from a supplier in Pakistan, previously released documents state.
Ultimately, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation turned to Arizona as part of what it described as a "secret and important mission" to pick up the drug from a prison south of Phoenix, then drive it to San Quentin.
The planned execution of Albert Greenwood Brown, which set off the search, never took place. California eventually bought a British supply of the drug for $36,415, but details of that transaction remain secret.
The ACLU has contended the state cannot use a foreign-made supply of the drug without the approval of the federal Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA issued a statement Wednesday saying the agency "does not review or approve products for the purpose of lethal injects."
The agency confirmed it was releasing the British shipment to California without reviewing the drug "to determine their identity, safety, effectiveness, surety or any other characteristics."
"We're comfortable that it will be arriving in the coming days," corrections spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said.
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