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Lawmakers call on DEA to ramp up fight against surge in use of ‘zombie drug’ xylazine

WASHINGTON D.C. — Members of Congress are calling for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ramp up efforts to fight against the surge in the use of the drug xylazine, also known as the “zombie drug” or “tranq.”

Xylazine is an animal tranquilizer meant to be used by veterinarians.

The DEA says when xylazine is mixed with fentanyl, it makes an even deadlier combination.

Xylazine is a non-opiate sedative, meaning the effects cannot be reversed with Narcan.

“It’s a deadly, skin-rotting zombie drug that’s bringing a horrific wave of overdoses across the country,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) during a press conference on Thursday.

Schumer announced he sent a letter to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram urging the DEA to increase resources for state and local agencies to fight against the drug.

Schumer also called on the DEA to report on the manufacturing, prevalence, and risk of xylazine, especially when mixed with fentanyl.

“Only 18 months ago, xylazine was reported in 36 states. Today, that number has risen to 48 states,” Schumer wrote. “We must know more about where this drug originates, how much of the illicit supply of this drug is diverted from the legal supply, how xylazine is being diverted to and through the United States, and whether there are any analogues to the drug that could be of risk to Americans.”

Earlier this month, the DEA released a public safety alert warning about the danger of xylazine.

It’s a concern that has bipartisan calls for action.

In January, several House Republicans sent a letter to the DEA and to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) about concerns over the growing use of xylazine.

It was signed by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX), and Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL).

“While the Food and Drug Administration’s issuance of a nationwide four page xylazine alert to clinicians in November was a good first step, the response to this growing threat remains wholly inadequate,” the GOP lawmakers wrote. “Xylazine must be recognized as the threat it is and be scheduled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).”

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