The United States has labeled veterinary tranquilizers mixed with the potent opioid fentanyl a “new threat,” paving the way for further efforts to stop the spread of xylazine.
The National Drug Control Policy Office announced the designation on Wednesday. This is the first time the office has used it since the rapidly growing drug hazards category was created in 2019.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Drug Policy Bureau, said xylazine (pronounced ZAI’-luh-zeen) is becoming more and more common in all parts of the country.
Nearly 800 drug-related deaths were detected in the United States in 2020, mostly in the Northeast. A Drug Enforcement Administration report last year said more than 3,000 people would die by 2021, the highest in the South.
“We cannot ignore what we are seeing,” said Gupta. “We must act now.”
Xylazine was approved for veterinary use in 1971. Xylazine, sometimes known as “tranq,” has emerged in recent years as a source of illicit drugs for heavy human use.
It is believed to be added to other drugs to increase their benefits. Officials are trying to understand how much is diverted from veterinary use and how much is made illegally.
The drug slows breathing and heart rate, sometimes to fatal levels, and can cause skin abscesses and ulcers that may require amputation. Withdrawal is also painful.
It is not an opioid, although it is often used in combination with opioids and related illegal lab-made drugs such as fentanyl.
Gupta said his office is requesting $11 million as part of its budget to develop strategies to tackle the drug epidemic. The plan includes developing an antidote, learning more about how it can be introduced into and disrupting the illegal drug supply, and considering whether Congress should classify it as a controlled substance. included.
Gupta said it should be available for veterinary use even as there is a crackdown on supplies for people’s use. He said we need to improve our data on where we are.
The Drug Policy Alliance, a group that advocates for drug harm, has praised some of the Biden administration’s plans. It argues that the prescription opioid and heroin crackdowns have created the conditions for fentanyl and now xylazine to overtake some drug markets.
“Focus on interdicting the supply side only pushes us deeper into this crisis and will inevitably result in more lives lost,” said Maritza, director of the group’s federal secretariat. Perez Medina said in a statement.
This drug is part of the overdose crisis plaguing the US
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 107,000 people died from overdose in the 12 months ending November 30, 2022.
Most of the deaths were related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. Like xylazine, they are often added to other medications and users are not always aware they are taking them.
This article has corrected the spelling of the name of Maritza Perez Medina, Federal Secretary General of the Drug Policy Alliance.
https://fox40.com/news/national/ap-us-news/us-names-veterinary-drug-fentanyl-mixture-emerging-threat/ New Threat: Xylazine, Fentanyl Drug Mixture