A New Drug Epidemic Sweeping Across America: Xylazine's Horrifying Impact

December 5, 2023
Margaret Brommelsiek, Ph.D.
A New Drug Epidemic Sweeping Across America: Xylazine's Horrifying Impact
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Use of the veterinary drug xylazine is having a profound impact on the health of those who use illicit substances across the United States. Originally developed by the pharmaceutical company Bayer in 1962 as a large animal sedative containing a muscle relaxant with analgesic properties, xylazine was never intended for human consumption and therefore identified as a non-classified drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), requiring only a veterinarian’s prescription. In humans, xylazine acts on the central nervous system and may cause drowsiness, slowed breathing, decreased heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and even amnesia. So when did this veterinary drug enter into the street drug supply chain, and how did it get there?

Key Points:Xylazine Cover

  • Xylazine is an FDA nonclassified, veterinary anesthesia drug never intended for human use.
  • Many individuals are unaware that recreational street drugs contain xylazine.
  • Xylazine does not show up in routine toxicology screens.
  • There is no current treatment to reverse the effects of xylazine exposure.
  • Xylazine-induced skin lesions can result in the amputation of limbs.
  • A network of influencers will be necessary to persuade elected officials to set policies and protocols to manage and mitigate this potent drug.



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