It's a really odd problem to have. Ohio is running out of the drug it uses to kill convicts on death row, the sedative pentobarbital. Combined with a cocktail of muscle paralyzers, and heart-stopping drugs, pentobarbital is the first step in a series of injections that states consider to be an ethical way of killing a person.
Reuters reports that Ohio has filed with a federal court its intentions to find a replacement for pentobarbital by October 4, so that the new death cocktail will be ready for a scheduled November 14 execution.
Ohio is not alone in the death-drug scramble. Texas, too, is running out of the drug, and reportedly has only enough to last through August. Missouri is also in a scramble and plans to replace its stock with propofol — the drug that is most famous for killing Michael Jackson. (The Missouri Supreme Court just days ago gave the go ahead to start using it.)
So why the shortage? Short answer: No company really wants to be in the business of making death drugs. In 2011, the Danish drug manufacturer that makes pentobarbital declared it would no longer sell its stock for use in capital punishment. The European Union even imposed sanctions against selling death drugs to the United States. No U.S. manufacturer has synthesized lethal injection drugs since 2011. And in April 2012, a federal judge blocked the import of sodium thiopental, a similar drug, all together.