Today Texas executed Yokamon Hearn. He was the first person executed with a newly adopted single drug method. Texas had to change from a three drug method to a single drug method because of pressure applied by death penalty opponents to companies who manufacture the drugs and to governments in countries where the drug companies are located. Switching to pentobarbital, also known as Nembutal, raised the cost of drugs for each execution from $83.55 to $1,286.86.
Hearn was the 483rd person executed in Texas since executions resumed in 1982 after an 18 year moratorium. He was the 244th person executed under Governor Rick Perry.
Before Wednesday’s execution, the three drugs used for court-ordered executions in Texas were: thiopental sodium, to sedate the prisoner; pancuronium bromide to paralyse them; and potassium chloride to stop the heart.
Several states introduced the use of pentobarbital in the face of shortages of thiopental sodium, which was pulled off the market in 2010.
The European Union banned European manufacturers from exporting that drug to the US to prevent it being used in executions. Pentobarbital is also covered by the EU ban.
In Texas, the state chose to switch drugs after its supply of pancuronium bromide expired.