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US state says execution to continue as drug supplier backs out

US state of Missouri says it will execute a death-row inmate next week, even as the supplier of its injection drug said it will not provide the substance
This November 30, 2009 photo shows the the execution chamber of the "death house" at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.

The US state of Missouri said it will execute a death-row inmate next week, even as the supplier of its injection drug said it will not provide the substance.

The Missouri Department of Corrections "remains prepared to carry out the execution of Michael Taylor" scheduled for next Wednesday, prison authorities told AFP.

Taylor was sentenced to death over the rape and murder of an adolescent girl whom he picked up at a school bus stop in 1989.

But his lawyers said the state's barbiturate supplier would not be supplying the injection drug, after they lodged a lawsuit.

The Apothecary Shoppe "will not prepare or provide pentobarbital or any other drug for use in the execution," his lawyers said, referring to a settlement announced Monday.

"We filed this lawsuit to prevent the unlawful compounding of pentobarbital for use in the execution," said attorneys Matthew Hellman and Carrie Apfel, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of Taylor.

Missouri said in October that it had adopted use of pentobarbital for executions, facing a shortage of standard barbiturates after European manufacturers stopped selling their drugs to US states if they were to be used to put humans to death.

Like other states, Missouri turned to so-called compounding pharmacies not subject to federal drug safety regulations to procure the drugs.

"Miscompounded pentobarbital poses a grave risk of suffering and pain in violation of the Eighth Amendment, as well as federal and state law," Taylor's lawyers said.

Cheryl Pilate, an attorney on a team that attempted to stay Taylor's execution said it is still unknown "by what methods or means" state officials plan to proceed.

"We don't know if they're going to change the protocol, or if they have another source of compounding pentobarbital or if they intend to proceed with an expired drug" she said.

More and more death-row inmates in the United States are asking courts to stay their executions, saying that the new drugs states are using will cause them the sort of suffering forbidden under the US Constitution.