SOUTHERN COLORADO — On Wednesday the Biden administration declared the lethal combination of fentanyl and Xylazine, a powerful tranquilizer, as an "emerging threat" for the nation.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said the deadly combination is putting people at a higher risk for overdose. Xylazine, also known as "Tranq," is a powerful sedative approved by the FDA for veterinary use.
The Colorado Springs Police Department said it has not made any seizures of fentanyl that have tested positive for Xylazine, but knows it is on the streets in our community.
Lauren Atencio, a clinical director at the Peaks Recovery Center in Colorado Springs, said the center will start testing patients for Xylazine.
"Fentanyl in itself is so deadly that adding any other substance within it, especially one that we're not as familiar with that is primarily used for animals, it just increases the risk for death a lot more," she said.
The DEA said because Xylazine is not an opioid, Narcan can not be used to reverse its effects. Those who inject drug mixtures containing Xylazine can develop severe wounds that can lead to amputation.
In 2022, 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained Xylazine. The DEA said it has seen an increase in Xylazine-related overdoses in every region of the country, especially in the South, which has seen a 1,127% increase in overdoses related to the drug from 2020 to 2021.
Dr. Bradley Bundy at the Yorkshire Veterinary Hospital in Colorado Springs said most pet hospitals do not use Xylazine. If a clinic does have it on hand, it is normally locked away.
"It's not one that we use a lot of. It's used a lot more in large animals or in kinds of specialty animals, so like zoo animals. Some of your more high profile and a little bit unpredictable animals is where it's most helpful because we get a predictable response," said Bundy.
Now that the Biden administration has declared the drug combination as an "emerging threat," it has 90 days to organize a national response.
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