Pennsylvania will make the animal sedative xylazine a controlled substance

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Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro is taking action to tackle the misuse of a potent animal tranquilizer called xylazine, which has been found mixed with illicit drugs like fentanyl, leading to a rise in overdose deaths. The new legislation criminalizes the misuse of xylazine while ensuring it remains legally available for veterinary use.

Xylazine, primarily used by veterinarians to sedate and treat animals, has found its way into supplies of illegal opioids, including fentanyl. By formalizing an order issued by Governor Shapiro last year, Pennsylvania is joining other states in restricting access to xylazine.

The drug, also known as “tranq,” has become a concern due to its pain-relieving and muscle-relaxing effects when combined with opioids. It was detected in thousands of drug-related deaths across the U.S. in 2021, prompting action from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Under the new law, xylazine will be classified as a “schedule III” drug, subjecting its misuse to criminal penalties, including imprisonment for up to five years. The legislation also mandates safe storage of the drug to prevent theft and unauthorized access.

Federal authorities have recognized the threat posed by xylazine-laced fentanyl and have implemented measures to enhance testing, treatment, and interception of illegal shipments containing xylazine.

The misuse of xylazine in humans can have severe consequences, including dangerously low breathing and heart rates. Injection of the drug can result in serious infections and tissue damage, sometimes necessitating amputation.

Governor Shapiro’s initiative aims to address the misuse of xylazine and protect public health by regulating its availability and cracking down on its illegal use in opioid substances.

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