UMMS Affiliation

Department of Anesthesiology



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Thiopental; Capital Punishment




This paper will concentrate on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of thiopental. As applied here, pharmacokinetics is the study of the concentration of thiopental as a function of time in tissues (particularly brain), while pharmacodynamics is the study of the effects of thiopental (particularly the production of unconsciousness and impairment of the heart’s ability to circulate blood). By using generally accepted computer modeling techniques, and considering the wealth of published studies on the pharmacology of thiopental, we can prepare predictions of such relevant parameters as the onset (how long it takes for the inmate to become unconscious) and duration (how long the inmate would remain unconscious) of the pharmacological effects of thiopental.


Citation: Dershwitz M, Henthorn TK. The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of thiopental as used in lethal injection. Fordham Urban Law J 2008; 35:931-56.

© 2008 The Fordham Law School Institutional Repository

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