The Missouri Department of Corrections announced that it will switch from three-drug lethal injection cocktails to a single drug: Propofol, which many will recognize as the anesthetic that caused Michael Jackson's death.
Missouri is the first state to make this change. Most states with the death penalty have traditionally used a combination of sodium thiopental, a rapid-onset barbiturate which puts the inmate to sleep, and two other drugs that stop the lungs and heart.
The change was made, according to department officials, because makers of sodium thiopental have stopped selling it for use in executions. The majority of the 33 states with the death penalty have replaced the sodium thiopental with pentobarbital, although that drug's maker also opposes its use in executions.
Department spokesman Chris Cline gave the following statement Wednesday:
"Working with expert guidance, we are confident that this new one-drug protocol will be effective and appropriate."
Currently no executions are scheduled in Missouri, though there are 19 men on death row whose appeals have run out, the AP reports.
Critics of the decision are concerned that Propofol has not been tested for lethal injections and thus could cause pain and suffering for inmates.