Addiction to the synthetic opioid fentanyl is a growing problem in the United States. For some time now, this drug has been discontinued with the veterinary drug xylazine. Its effect on people is reminiscent of zombie series like “The Walking Dead”. Particularly violent: the drug causes tissue death, sometimes even amputation is necessary.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now announced tighter import controls for the drug, which is commonly used in large animals such as horses.
“This is to prevent the drug from entering the US market for illegal purposes while remaining available for legitimate use in animals.” Xylazine is also colloquially known as the “zombie drug” or “trank”. Drug dealers use this drug to cut drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine.
The FDA warned that xylazine can cause “serious and life-threatening side effects” in humans. The drug can reduce “respiration, blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature to life-threatening levels”. Injection of xylazine therefore carries a risk of severe skin injury as well as decomposition and death of body tissue, which may necessitate amputation.
Xylazine is a growing concern in the United States regarding fatal drug overdoses. According to the National Institute on Substance Abuse in the US state of Pennsylvania, the proportion of all fatal overdoses in which the drug was detected increased from 2 to 26 percent between 2015 and 2020.