The Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock issued an emergency order on Friday placing the non-opioid drug xylazine used mostly in veterinarian medicine, on the list of Schedule III drugs.
Bullock made the decision after the Delaware Controlled Substance Advisory Committee recommended it May 5, 2023.
Bullock said in a press release about the decision that xylazine has a dangerous impact on people.
“Xylazine is a powerful animal sedative with beneficial uses in veterinary medicine,” Bullock said. “But when abused by people, the consequences can be devastating. This order is not designed to interfere with the legitimate veterinary uses of xylazine but can help to reduce its abuse as ‘tranq’ when it’s used by humans, often as an additive in opioid abuse.”
According to the press release, xylazine has been increasingly detected in the illicit drug supply and in drug overdoses, including in heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
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Between 2020 and 2021, the detection of xylazine in Drug Enforcement Administration laboratories increased across the country, according to a DEA report in Oct. 2022.
It rose In the South by 193% from 198 to 580, in the West by 112%, from 77 to 163, in the Northeast by 61%, from 346 to 556, and in the Midwest by 7%, from 110 to 118.
During the same period, overdose deaths also increased across the country, by 1,127% in the South, from 116 to 1,423, in the West by 750%, from 4 to 34, in the Midwest by 516%, from 57 to 341, and in the Northeast by 103%, from 631 to 1,281.
Delaware isn’t the only state to list xylazine as a controlled substance. Florida lists it as a Schedule I drug, Ohio and Pennsylvania list it as a Schedule III drug, and West Virginia lists it as a Schedule IV drug.
Drugs added to the controlled substance list are ranked from Schedule I, which is the most likely for abuse and has the least medical use, including heroin, down to Schedule V drugs, which have a low potential for abuse compared to the other drugs on the list and include cough medicines with codeine.
While xylazine has not been approved for human use, it has many street names including tranq, tranq dope, sleep cut, Philly dope and zombie drug.
Because xylazine isn’t an opioid, opioid-reversing medications such as naloxone will not reverse the effects of a xylazine overdose.
However, naloxone can still be effective in reversing the effects of the particular opioid involved and should still be used if symptoms of a possible opioid overdose are present.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in Nov. 2022 that xylazine is not safe for use in humans and may result in serious and life-threatening side effects.
When used with an opioid, xylazine may make it even harder to breathe during an overdose. It can also cause skin ulcers, decaying tissue and bacterial infections.
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