Published: Jan 21, 2011 6:35 PM EST
Updated: Jan 21, 2011 3:38 PM EST

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The sole U.S. manufacturer of a key lethal injection drug says it's discontinuing drug's production because it couldn't guarantee Italian authorities that it wouldn't be used in executions.

Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., said Friday that its plant in Italy was the only viable place where the company could produce sodium thiopental.

Hospira spokesman Dan Rosenberg told The Associated Press that Italian authorities insisted the company prove the drug would never end up with states using it to put condemned inmates to death. Rosenberg said the company determined after discussions with Italy and Hospira wholesalers that it could not make such a guarantee.

 A shortage of sodium thiopental has disrupted executions around the country since last spring when Ohio nearly postponed an execution when it almost ran out.

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