WASHINGTON (PIX11) — Washington has previously sounded the alarm about the hazards of mixing the approved drug xylazine with fentanyl. Now, in an unprecedented move, the Biden administration has officially declared it an “emerging drug threat” to the nation. The declaration comes as the number of overdoses and deaths from the mixture are on the rise.
The increasingly combined mixture of xylazine, known on the street as “tranq,” with fentanyl has become most popular on the illicit drug market and has exacerbated the nationwide addiction crisis. New York’s special narcotics prosecutor was quick to applaud the government’s declaration.
In an interview with PIX11 News, she said she sees it as a positive step. “It’s concrete,” Bridget Brennan maintained, adding, “The government is stepping in and saying they’re going to take action, and that is important.”
Xylazine is a tranquilizing drug for animals that was approved by the FDA more than 50 years ago. But when combined with other opioid drugs like fentanyl, it increases the high, as well as the risk of death.
A previous PIX11 News report witnessed addicts falling over themselves in a video taken in a drug-infested street in Philadelphia. By declaring the tranquilizer a drug threat, New York’s drug czar hopes it will be the first step in the government’s efforts to curb the epidemic.
Brennan is optimistic. “I expect it will be declared a controlled substance and it’s going to accelerate the government’s comprehensive response to this,” she said. “Importantly, it will allow us to prosecute these cases to bring charges if we find the drug is being imported for human use.”
The city’s drug czar also hopes the government’s latest response to the crisis will require laboratories to list xylazine as a controlled substance in their analysis.
David Gerber, an addiction specialist who is president of Sober At Home, a program to help substance abusers, also praised the government’s drug threat declaration, but he said more has to be done. “We need to take down international cartels that are looking to harm Americans, and we have to take a closer look at the reasons why Americans are using these drugs in the first place.”
Federal drug officials have said xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced — fentanyl — even deadlier. The city’s narcotics prosecutor said she expects Washington to act quickly to label the drug a controlled substance. Washington intends to issue a detailed plan on how it expects to curb the nation’s latest drug crisis within the next 90 days.