A federal judge declared he won’t restart a civil rights lawsuit against Arizona State until it declares which execution drugs it uses. The order mandates the concerned state to inform the court of its stockpile of drugs and specifically the combination of drugs it intends to use when it restarts the executions by injection.

The state of Arizona launched a formal appeal to the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) over its seizing of an execution drug. The FDA halted the $27,000 shipment of sodium thiopental on grounds that it was illegal to import the drug. However, according to the attorneys of the state, FDA lacks the authority to halt the shipment.

The FDA is looking at appeals from Arizona as well as Texas where officials have tried to ship the drug unsuccessfully. Currently, Arizona officials are taking steps to resume executions. The state cannot obtain death warrants until it tackles a lawsuit filed by death row inmates over the confidentiality of the execution drugs as well as their sources. The lawsuit was suspended by consent of both sides.

The state officials ordered for the drug after altering its execution protocols subsequent to the lengthy death of the convicted killer Joseph Rudolph Wood. Wood’s death took two hours after he was subject to the concoction of hydromorphone, and midazolam.

Texas has also failed to import, sodium thiopental. Jason Clark, spokesperson of the Texas department of criminal justice, stated that the state had legally bought the medicines and was issued an import license from the authorities prior to the drug being shipped.  Texas has not utilized sodium thiopental in recent times. However, the prison authorities would like to explore other options such as using pentobarbital and other drugs for death-by-injection.

Death penalty states are having a hard time to source execution drugs. As a result, executions have been suspended or done by other methods. The State of Utah reintroduced firing squad. The shortage of drugs goes as far as five years ago when manufacturers from Europe halted their supply.

It’s better if the matter is resolved at the earliest. Death row inmates should not be subjected to a long and torturous ordeal when put to death by injection.