Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal judge has blocked the importation of a drug used in executions on grounds the Food and Drug Administration ignored the law by allowing it into this country.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington sided with lawyers for death row inmates in Tennessee, Arizona and California who wanted to keep out the drug, sodium thiopental, because it is an unapproved drug manufactured overseas.

The Obama administration argued it had discretion to allow unapproved drugs into the U.S. But Leon said the FDA acted "contrary to law."

Sodium thiopental is an anesthetic used to put inmates to sleep before other lethal drugs are administered.

The drug's U.S. manufacturer announced last year that it would no longer produce it, forcing corrections officials to delay many executions.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.