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White House Plan Addresses Fentanyl-Xylazine 'Emerging Threat'

The combination of fentanyl and xylazine has increased in the U.S., leading the White House to announce a plan that will confront the “emerging threat” of the drug combination, Scripps News reports. Xylazine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1972 for use in animals, but it's not approved for human use. Its use rose in all four U.S. census regions between 2020 and 2021. The monthly percentage of illegally manufactured fentanyl-involved deaths with xylazine detected increased 276% between January 2019 and June 2022. The increased use brought increased overdose deaths, with a 1,127% jump in the South and more than 100% in all other regions.

Xylazine's combination with fentanyl has been associated with severe morbidity, including deep flesh wounds and limb amputation. The response plan’s goal is to reduce xylazine-positive drug poisoning deaths by 15% in at least 3 of 4 U.S. census regions by 2025. The Office of National Drug Control Policy's plan lists several actions the federal government will take to address the drug combination including testing methods, data system management, and prevention efforts. The plan says forensic testing will now become standardized and scaled up. New tests will be developed and deployed for clinical settings, and tests will be expanded in communities. There will also be enhanced epidemiological data processes to track the spread and impact of xylazine-fentanyl. Because xylazine isn't an opioid, it isn't affected by the reversal agent naloxone, which does affect fentanyl.


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