NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The push to warn the public about the dangers of a drug called xylazine, also known as tranq, has intensified so much so that Attorney Generals are forming a coalition to protect their communities.

Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti joined 38 others Friday in urging Congress to pass a bill that is aimed at combating the illicit use of the drug and preventing xylazine-related deaths. The drug is only authorized for veterinarian use and is not meant for humans.

The letter sent to lawmakers also comes on the heels of the recent declaration from the White House calling fentanyl-adulterated or -associated xylazine (FAAX) an “emerging threat” to the nation.  

The coalition outlined measures in the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act (H.R.1839/S.993) they hope congress will take action on:

  • Classifying the illicit use of xylazine as a Schedule III drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act;     
  • Allowing the DEA to track the manufacturing and sales of xylazine to ensure that it is not diverted;     
  • Requiring the U.S. Attorney General, acting through the DEA and in coordination with the FDA Commissioner, to submit a report to Congress detailing the prevalence, risks, and recommendations on how to regulate the illicit use of xylazine; and     
  • Ensuring all salts, isomers, and other forms of xylazine are also covered when restricting the drug’s illicit use.   

The Food and Drug Administration recently restricted imports of xylazine. Xylazine-positive overdose deaths increased in all regions of the U.S. from 2020 to 2021, DEA data shows, though it isn’t clear when such deaths were recorded.

“Xylazine is not an opioid and does not respond to naloxone (brand name Narcan), a medication that is used to rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdose,” said Dr. Rand Carpenter, the Chief Epidemiologist with the Metro Public Health Department.

For more information about xylazine, visit the websites for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Tennessee REDLINE provides accurate, up-to-date alcohol, drug, problem gambling, and other addiction information and referrals to all Tennesseans at their request. You can find out more by calling at 1-800-889-9789 or by visiting the Tennessee REDLINE website.