sodium thiopental

(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

Updated at 5:50 a.m. Friday with additional reporting. Reporting from KRCU's Jacob McCleland was used in this story.

The anesthetic that caused the overdose death of pop star Michael Jackson is now the drug for executions in Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Corrections is switching from its longstanding three-drug method to a single drug, propofol, which has never been used in an execution in the U.S. That's causing a stir among critics lijke Death Penalty Information Center director Richard Dieter.

On March 1, Missouri’s supply of a key execution drug expired. The sole U.S. manufacturer has stopped making the drug, sending the state on a quest to find more. The federal government does not have any reserves and is currently undertaking a review of what they call a critical shortage.

As St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie Bierach reports, Missouri has another option. It could follow the lead of Ohio and Oklahoma and switch drugs.

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri says it has learned that the state is running out of its supply of one of the three drugs used in executions.

The ACLU says the state has 50 units of sodium thiopental, but it expires March 1.

The state is preparing for the execution of Richard Clay next week.