Published: Feb 03, 2011 10:24 PM EST
Updated: Feb 03, 2011 7:33 PM EST

A lawsuit has been filed against the Food and Drug Administration and it urges a judge to block overseas shipments of a key drug used in U.S. executions.

The drug, sodium thiopental, has been in short supply since the sole U.S. maker decided to stop producing it.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Washington, D.C., on behalf of death row inmates in California, Arizona and Tennessee. It claims the FDA has knowingly allowed state corrections officials to import the sedative used in a three-drug execution cocktail.

Executions have been delayed in several states because of the sodium thiopental shortage. Several states have received the drug from international suppliers.

The FDA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)