"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Fentanyl-xylazine combination: A brand new threat

April 12, 2023 – The spread of fentanyl and the animal tranquilizer xylazine poses a “new threat” to the United States, the White House said on Wednesday, allowing the country to quickly develop a response plan to scale back the availability of the illegal drugs, improve testing and supply more treatment options.

The motion follows a Warning from the US Drug Enforcement Agency a couple of sharp increase in trafficking and overdoses of fentanyl combined with a substance commonly generally known as “tranq” or the “zombie drug.” The rapid increase in overdoses, serious health consequences corresponding to deep skin wounds that don't heal, and deaths prompted the brand new warning from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“As a physician, I am deeply troubled by the devastating effects of the fentanyl-xylazine combination, and as President Biden’s drug policy adviser, I am extremely concerned about what this threat poses to the nation,” said Rahul Gupta, MD, MPH, director of the Office of Drug Policy. in a statement.

Gupta cited DEA data This shows that from 2020 to 2021, xylazine identification in forensic labs increased across the United States, particularly within the South (193%) and the West (112%). DEA statistics also showed that xylazine overdose deaths increased by 1,127% within the South, 750% within the West, greater than 500% within the Midwest, and greater than 100% within the Northeast.

The SUPPORT ACT 2018 gave the Drug Policy Office latest powers to discover emerging drug threats. A special committee that met in 2019 and 2020 the criteria set if a substance poses a major risk to the general public.

This is the primary time these powers have been used. Gupta said a drug policy working group will meet soon to develop a plan to enhance testing for xylazine – because it goes undetected in routine drug tests; develop treatment and supportive care protocols; reduce the illicit supply of xylazine; and support rapid research that might, for instance, examine interactions between xylazine and fentanyl.

It is unclear how much money can be allocated for these efforts, but in March the Biden administration announced in its fiscal yr 2024 budget demanded $46.1 billion to support its drug control policies, including combating fentanyl. That's $2.3 billion greater than Congress approved for 2023.

Congress has also taken note of this. A bipartisan group of Senate and House members introduced the Law to combat illegal xylazinemaking the drug a controlled substance. This would give the DEA more power to prosecute and regulate it.

“This bipartisan legislation will ensure that the DEA and local law enforcement have the tools necessary to remove xylazine from our streets while protecting its important use as an animal tranquilizer,” said Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada). in a statement.

The FDA in March issued an import warning for xylazine, which allows it to withhold raw ingredients or bulk quantities of the drug if shipments are suspected to be illegal. Xylazine was first approved by the FDA in 1972 as a sedative and analgesic to be used in animals only.

In November notified healthcare professionals that the overdose medication naloxone is unlikely to reverse a xylazine-induced overdose since the animal tranquilizer will not be an opioid.