Ohio changing execution drugs

Lethal injection explained
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Story highlights

  • Ohio will stop using midazolam and hydromorphone and start using thiopental sodium
  • The drugs were used in January 2014 on an inmate who gasped and convulsed before death

(CNN)Ohio is changing the drugs used in lethal injections, a move that will delay at least one execution scheduled for next month, the Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Thursday.

The state will stop using the two-drug regimen of midazolam and hydromorphone, the department said in a press release.
The drug combination was last used in January 2014 on convicted murderer Dennis McGuire. Witnesses said he convulsed and gasped about 10 minutes before he died.
    The McGuire execution was closely watched because midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller, had never been used in a U.S. execution.
    Ohio, like many states, was forced to find new execution drugs after European-based manufacturers banned U.S. prisons from using their drugs in executions -- among them, Danish-based Lundbeck, which manufactures pentobarbital.
    Ohio will add thiopental sodium, a drug the state used for lethal injections from 1999-2011, the department said. Thiopental sodium and pentobarbital will be the only drugs used.
    JoEllen Smith, spokesman for the corrections department, confirmed that Ohio has 40 vials of midazolam set to expire April 1.
    The release said the the February 11 execution of Ronald Phillips, and possibly others, will be postponed while Ohio secures a supply of pentobarbital and thiopental sodium.
    CNN is trying to reach Ohio officials for details about their decision.
    McGuire was convicted in 1994 of the rape and murder of 22-year-old Joy Stewart, who was seven months pregnant.