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Only FL Uses Execution Drug

In an execution to be carried out at 6 p.m. today, Florida will begin using a sedative that has never been tried before for anything other than surgery, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. Because Europeans consider the death penalty uncivilized, they refuse to sell pentobarbital sodium, the drug that Florida used to use, to prisons in states that still conduct executions. The new drug is midazolam hydrochloride, known by the brand name Versed. It will be the first of three drugs administered to  William Happ, who has been on death row for 27 years. It is supposed to anesthetize him before administration of a drug that causes paralysis and then a third that causes cardiac arrest. Because the two latter drugs are painful but a paralyzed person cannot cry out, some critics object to the use of Versed in case it doesn’t completely anesthetize Happ. They note that veterinarians do not consider this protocol appropriate for euthanasia.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.