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Drugs allowed to be used in Montana lethal injections not readily available for purchase


HELENA, Montana — A judge's ruling limits Montana to using one of three drugs in its lethal injections, but none of three is readily available for purchase.

That means the state may be unable to execute either of its two death-row inmates unless the Legislature changes the law or the Montana Supreme Court overturns District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock's decision.

State law requires lethal injections to be administered by an "ultra-fast acting barbiturate" and a chemical paralytic agent. Sherlock determined Tuesday only three barbiturates are ultra-fast acting.

One is thiopental (thi-oh-PENT'-ahl), which is no longer manufactured in the U.S. European manufacturers are banned from exporting the drug for executions.

The second is thiamylal (thy-AM'-il-ahl), which is no longer made in the U.S.

The third is methohexital (meth-oh-HEX'-it-al). The drug's U.S. manufacturer refuses to sell it to state corrections officials.

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