The Biden administration announced Tuesday a new national strategy to combat the scourge of fentanyl mixed with the flesh-eating xylazine emerging in overdoses in the U.S. but stopped short of calling for new regulations.
The new plan will increase capacity for testing, data collection, treatment, supply reduction, and research across federal agencies while increasing opportunities to “explore” new regulations, the White House said.
The illicit drug, present in nearly all 50 states, has been involved in increasing illicit fentanyl-related overdoses.
Fentanyl deaths involving xylazine rose 276% from January 2021 to June 2022, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.
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White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Dr. Rahul Gupta recently designated the deadly mixture as an “emerging threat” to the U.S.
“Since we announced the emerging drug threat earlier this year, we’ve been working tirelessly to create the best plan of attack to address this dangerous and deadly substance head-on,” White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Gupta said in the latest announcement.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) earlier alerted the public to the deadly mixture of fentanyl and xylazine, which is also known as “tranq” as veterinarians use it as a sedative for animals. Xylazine is resistant to Narcan, an opioid antidote used to reverse the effects of an overdose because it isn’t an opioid.
According to the DEA, illegal xylazine powder can be purchased from online Chinese suppliers for $6 to $20 per kilogram.
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“Now, with this National Response Plan, we are launching coordinated efforts across all of government to ensure we are using every lever we have to protect public health and public safety and save lives,” Gupta said.
“As a doctor, I have seen the devastating consequences of xylazine combined with fentanyl firsthand. And as President Biden’s drug policy advisor, I am laser-focused on finding every tool we have and following the best evidence-based practices to take on this new challenge. This will be an all-hands-on-deck effort – but I am confident we can take action together and eradicate this emerging threat,” Gupta said.
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