FDA restricts illegal import of animal tranquilizer increasingly found in US drug supply

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an import alert to prevent the illegal import of veterinary drug xylazine, which has been increasingly found in the US’s illicit drug supply. The FDA aims to prevent xylazine from entering the US market for illegal purposes by detaining shipments of the drug and its ingredients, CBS News reports. Xylazine is an animal tranquilizer used by veterinarians to sedate large animals like horses.

Xylazine can cause severe and life-threatening effects, including skin wounds, tissue death, and critical levels of depression of breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate in people. The drug has been detected in overdose deaths throughout the country and is often mixed with opioids, including the synthetic drug fentanyl, and stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine.

Xylazine is challenging to detect because it is often used in combination with other substances, and routine toxicology screenings may not identify its presence. The FDA’s import alert will reduce xylazine’s availability in the illicit drug supply, but it will remain available for legitimate veterinary use.

The FDA advises anyone who suspects that they or someone they know has ingested xylazine to seek immediate medical attention.