Evidence of animal tranquilizer on rise in overdose deaths in Nashville
A tranquilizer meant for veterinarian use has been linked to a growing number of drug overdose deaths in Tennessee.
Xylazine has been found in fentanyl, heroin and other drugs, according to a November notice from the Food and Drug Administration. It appears Naloxone, which is administered in an effort to reverse the overdose effects of opioids, may not have an impact on Xylazine, according to the FDA.
“Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has every faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said. “DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 States. The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.”
Evidence of the drug in Tennessee has nearly doubled each year for the last two years, though Xylazine does not show up on a standard toxicology screen so cases could be underreported, according to the FDA.
From 2020 to 2021, overdose deaths across Tennessee where Xylazine was present increased from 56 to 94, according to a report published by the Tennessee Department of Health in November.
At the time, Davidson County was third in the state for deaths, behind Shelby and Knox counties.
Since then, the drug has been classified as an "emerging substance" in Nashville, according to quarterly reports published by the Metro Public Health Department.
"Xylazine has been increasingly detected among suspected overdose deaths during the last two years," according to the last quarter's report.
The department first included Xylazine in their 2021 fourth quarter report where it was found in 2.7% of overdose deaths, about 20 cases. In 2020, about 8 cases, 1.3%, of overdose deaths included the drug.
Last year, nearly 40 overdose cases involved Xylazine.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Overdose deaths involving animal tranquilizer on the rise in Nashville