Nebraska becomes first state to execute inmate using fentanyl
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Nebraska has become the first state to execute an inmate while using fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that has contributed to the nation's opioid epidemic.

The Nebraska State Penitentiary on Tuesday executed convicted murderer Carey Dean Moore with a mixture of drugs that included fentanyl, according to The New York Times.

Nebraska is not the first state to consider using the synthetic opioid while carrying out the death penalty, though it is the first to follow through on the idea.

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Last month, Nevada planned to use fentanyl in the execution of convicted murder Scott Dozier, but decided to postpone the procedure.

The use of fentanyl in executions has drawn some criticism, including from the American Civil Liberties Union, given the drug's role in the opioid epidemic.

Synthetic opioids surpassed prescription opioids as the leading cause of overdoses in 2016, largely due to fentanyl, according to the federal government.

Though Moore did not seek a reprieve, two pharmaceutical companies whose drugs were to be used in the lethal cocktail attempted to stop the execution to preserve their reputations, the Times previously reported.

When the companies could not prove their products were being used in the procedure, the proposed execution moved forward.

The cocktail used in the execution Tuesday also included diazepam, a tranquilizer; potassium chloride, which stops the heart; and cisatracurium besylate, a muscle relaxant.

Moore, who received the death penalty after he was found guilty of killing two Omaha taxi drivers, was one of the longest-serving death-row inmates in the U.S. prior to his execution and those close to him said he was ready to die, the Times reported.

This will be the first execution in Nebraska since 1997 and the only lethal injection to take place in a Nebraska prison.

Nebraskan legislators outlawed capital punishment in 2015, but their vote was overturned in a 2016 referendum wherein Nebraskans voted overwhelmingly to reinstate the death penalty.