FDA can’t allow execution drug to be imported

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A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration was wrong to allow a misbranded and unapproved new drug to be imported for use in executions by lethal injection.

The three-judge panel affirmed a lower court ruling barring the FDA from allowing the importation of sodium thiopental — rejecting the agency’s argument that it had discretion to allow unapproved drugs into the United States.

The FDA policy ‘‘was not in accordance with law,’’ wrote Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Sodium thiopental is an anesthetic used to put inmates to sleep before other lethal drugs are administered. The case was brought by death row inmates in Tennessee, Arizona, and California.

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