Xylazine is a powerful tranquilizer used on large animals like horses and cows for veterinary purposes like sedation and anesthesia.
But it’s being found in Pennsylvania’s illicit drug supply, making already dangerous substance use disorders much more deadly.
“You can’t even understand the concept of the amount of desperation that these people are feeling, because of the disease that they are living through.”
Drug dealers have been mixing together Fentanyl with Xylazine also called “tranq” causing state and local lawmakers to fight back against it
“Xylazine is so prevalent now. It’s so much cheaper. When you cut it into the fentanyl, it makes for a better high,”
Around 300,000 Pennsylvanians suffer from substance use disorder, with about 15 of them passing away every day from overdoses.
Xylazine contributed to 90 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2017 — but last year in 2022 — it was tied to about 600 overdose deaths statewide.
“It’s a cheaper high. It’s a devastating high,”
Tuesday morning, Governor Shapiro announced that he directed the Pennsylvania Department of Health to schedule Xylazine as a controlled substance.
He says the move is meant to take action against the dangerous drug contributing to more opioid overdoses across the Commonwealth.
“Scheduling these drugs allows us to put tighter controls, security, and record keeping requirements in place to keep them out of our communities,”
Representative Gregory says the focus should be on preventing people from getting there in the first place.
“I can guarantee that drug dealers and chemical companies are already two steps ahead of trying to figure out how they’re going to replace the crackdown on Xylazine,”
Many times, people don’t even know they’re consuming Xylazine when ingesting other opioids like Fentanyl.
Cambria County Coroner Jeff Lees says he’s seen a spike in Xylazine-related overdoses in the last few years.
“So far this year, in two of the eight cases, Xylazine has been present. Last year, we had 16 cases with Xylazine in the system. It’s definitely a recipe for disaster,”
Health officials say overdose reversal drugs won’t work with Xylazine.
As leaders debate over what the solution is, both sides agree they have to stay on top of it.
“The next step for us needs to be anticipation of what is coming because the whac-a-mole game is on and we’re right in the middle of it,”