The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel decided that the Food and Drug Administration "lacks jurisdiction" over drugs used to kill inmates through lethal injection. The ruling, made this month, sides with Texas, which sued the FDA in early 2017 over the agency's 2015 seizure of 1,000 vials of the anesthetic sodium thiopental — once commonly used in lethal-injection cocktails — from an unregistered overseas distributor. The opinion is sweeping, arguing that "articles intended for use in capital punishment by a state or the federal government cannot be regulated as 'drugs' or 'devices'" by the FDA. But the opinion applies only to the death penalty, not to drugs intended for use in physician-assisted suicide. The move could allow states to import unregulated execution drugs from foreign suppliers.
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