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White House Calls Tranquilizer Xylazine An 'Emerging Threat'

The U.S. named a veterinary tranquilizer an “emerging threat” when it’s mixed with the powerful opioid fentanyl, clearing the way for more efforts to stop the spread of xylazine. The Office of National Drug Control Policy announced the designation Wednesday, the first time the category has been used for fast-growing drug dangers was created in 2019, reports the Associated Press. Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the drug policy office, said xylazine has become increasingly common across the nation. It was detected in 800 drug deaths in the U.S. in 2020, mostly in the Northeast. By 2021, it was present in more than 3,000 fatalities, mostly , in the South, says the Drug Enforcement Administration. “We cannot ignore what we’re seeing,” Gupta said. “We must act and act now.”

Xylazine was approved for veterinary use in 1971. Sometimes known as “tranq,” it’s been showing up in supplies of illicit drugs used by humans in major quantities in only the last several years. It is believed to be added to other drugs to increase profits. Officials are trying to determine how much of it is diverted from veterinary uses and how much is made illicitly. The drug causes breathing and heart rates to slow down, sometimes to deadly levels, and causes skin abscesses and ulcers that can require amputation. Withdrawal is painful. While it’s often used with opioids, including fentanyl and illicit lab-made drugs, it’s not an opioid. There are no known antidotes. Gupta is seeking $11 million to develop a strategy to tackle the drug’s spread.


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