Deadly new street drug: Indiana health officials sound alarm

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. – A disturbing trend is surfacing in toxicology reports of overdose victims in Indiana. The Indiana Health Department has issued a warning about Bromazolam, a synthetic benzodiazepine drug. The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office has also sounded the alarm on this potent sedative, unapproved for medical use anywhere in the world. Despite lacking medical approval, Bromazolam is available on the illicit market, sold online and on the streets by dealers who often mix it with other drugs.

According to the health department, dealers are selling Bromazolam under other names, such as “Xanax,” “Fake Xanax,” “Dope,” or “XLI-268.” The drug is distributed in various forms, including tablets, powders, and gummies. Particularly alarming is its frequent combination with opioids, a deadly mix that depresses the respiratory system and neutralizes the effects of antidotes like naloxone.

“We were aware on the surface of other states that were experiencing this; Ohio, Illinois, and that’s really typically the way we see things here in Indiana,” Hamilton County Coroner Jeff Jellison told WISH TV. “It emerges in neighboring states and then all of a sudden you see it here at home.”

Users may experience adverse effects such as loss of coordination, difficulty breathing, dizziness, slurred speech, amnesia, and, tragically, death.

 “It’s really being manufactured by black market internet pharmacies,” Jellison told WISH TV. “This drug is obviously very powerful, and people are buying it assuming it’s this drug, but oftentimes when we see these toxicology reports, you’ll see fentanyl and other drugs associated with it simply because that’s what it’s being cut by.”

According to data from the Indiana Department of Health, 64 overdose victims were found to have tested positive for Bromazolam in the latest reporting period. Many of these victims also had fentanyl in their system, which is why the health department is urging quick naloxone use if you suspect an overdose.