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What to know about xylazine: "Tranq dope"

Federal authorities are warning Americans about an emerging public safety threat: fentanyl mixed with xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer that's been linked to a growing number of overdose deaths across the country.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued an alert Monday warning of a "sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine," which is also known as "tranq" or "tranq dope."

"Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier," said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, adding that the DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 out of 50 states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 107,735 Americans died from drug poisonings between August 2021 and August 2022, and 66% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA in 2022 contained xylazine, according to Milgram.


Xylazine is hitting the Northeast especially hard

Xylazine was found in over 90% of drug samples tested in Philadelphia in 2021, the program says. There are currently no validated drug-checking tests or tools for detecting xylazine; the health department got that data by testing drug samples with a forensic toxicology lab.

The problem has grown far beyond Philadelphia or even the entire state of Pennsylvania, which saw its percentage of overdose deaths involving xylazine jump from 2% to 26% between 2015 and 2020.

Other information on xylazine:

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