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UNL expert alert: FDA orders state to surrender lethal-injection drug

The Associated Press reports today that federal authorities have ordered Nebraska to turn over its supply of a lethal injection drug. The Nebraska Department of Corrections and the Nebraska Attorney General’s office confirmed today that they had recently received letters from the FDA requesting the drug, sodium thiopental, be turned over. The order follows a federal judge’s ruling last month that the FDA wrongly allowed other states to import the drug from foreign suppliers.

Eric Berger, assistant professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law, is an expert in constitutional law, constitutional history, public policy and statutory interpretation. In his days as a practicing attorney,  he dealt with a number of cases on lethal injection.

Prof. Berger offers these initial thoughts:

Nebraska’s failure to follow federal law in procuring a drug for its lethal injection procedure parallels the story in many states, which have tried to implement these procedures without sufficient appreciation of their complications.”

Several states with lethal injection on the books have failed to assemble an expert team to design a viable, safe procedure to execute people.  Without an expert team that understands potential complications, problems are going to arise.”

Reach Assistant Professor of Law Eric Berger at 402-472-1251 or

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