Xylazine threat

Xylazine – the New Threat in the War Against Drug Abuse in the United States

Several agencies such as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have recently issued public health warnings about a new threat in the war against drug abuse – xylazine-laced illicit drug availability. Xylazine, known as Tranq on the street, is a powerful sedative and pain reliever, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for veterinary use only1. To increase bulk supply, cartels are adding xylazine to illicit drugs such as fentanyl primarily but have also been found in cocaine and methadone concoctions2. Xylazine-laced illicit drugs are currently found in communities across the country2.

Xylazine enhances the “high” associated with drug abuse and increases the risk of a fatal drug poisoning event. Even more concerning is the administration of naloxone (Narcan) does not reverse the effects since xylazine is not an opioid1. However, health professionals still recommend administering naloxone to anyone suspected of suffering a drug overdose but to suspect xylazine exposure if the person does not respond.

Even more concerning is what happens when a person injects drugs that contain xylazine. Xylazine causes profound tissue injury, not only at the site of injection but in other locations on the body. The resulting skin sores have earned xylazine another nickname, the zombie drug. These wounds can run so deep that they cause tissue necrosis – tissue death – exposing tendons and bones, potentially necessitating limb amputation or causing a life-threatening infection3.

As of May 2023, xylazine is not a federally controlled substance; however, bipartisan legislation was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the House to designate xylazine as a federally controlled substance4,5. Xylazine powder is most likely sourced from China online and at a very low price2. In early June, the FDA issued an import alert that restricts the unlawful importation of xylazine6. Under the alert, FDA staff may detain shipments of xylazine or finished pharmaceutical products containing xylazine without examining them.

Xylazine-laced drugs are not distinguishable by their visual presentation. Ensuring the safety of our communities is a top priority at DTPM, Inc. DTPM offers two testing solutions for detecting xylazine:

Contact us today to learn how our products and services can support your laboratory’s fight against this war on drugs.