Dozens of deaths across New York have involved a flesh-eating deadly “zombie” drug used to sedate animals dubbed “Tranq,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Sunday.
Tranq, formally known as Xylazine — particularly when mixed with fentanyl — has been trending in the U.S., causing federal officials to warn Americans of the alarming widespread threat it poses to the public. Commonly known as the tranq or zombie drug by traffickers, the substance reportedly causes an extended euphoric feeling and is commonly used as a pharmaceutical drug to sedate animals. However, human use can result in severe wounds — including necrosis of the affected tissue — that could potentially lead to amputation.
Schumer told reporters during a press conference that the drug has spread from Syracuse, Albany, Rochester, and Greater New York City, calling on federal authorities to fund efforts and deploy a control team to stop the drug from being distributed.
“This new drug is a nightmare,” Schumer said, according to The New York Post. “Xylazine is dangerous. It is deadly. It is here. We have to fight and fund.”
The National Institute of Drug Abuse labels Xylazine as a non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer linked to the increasing number of overdose deaths nationwide, most related to Xylazine and fentanyl and additional deadly substances.
Dr. Mike Varshavski, a licensed physician and YouTuber known as Doctor Mike, reportedly joined Schumer during the press conference, echoing recent federal warnings about the deadly zombie-like drug.
“We saw tremendous negative side effects this drug had, including respiratory depression, essentially shutting off the drive to continue breathing,” Varshavski said.
Last week, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized fentanyl mixed with a Tranq in 48 states, warning the American public of a widespread threat.
“Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” Administrator Anne Milgram said in a news release.
Milgram said the DEA Laboratory System reported approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained Xylazine in 2022.
Between 2015 and 2020, the Northeastern region of the U.S. saw the largest impact from overdose deaths involving Xylazine, with Pennsylvania increasing from 2% of overdose deaths to nearly 26%. Maryland reported 19% of all drug overdoses in 2021 involved Xylazine and 10% in Connecticut in 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 107,735 Americans died between August 2021 and August 2022 from drug poisonings, with 66% of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the news release.
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DEA authorities blamed the vast majority of fentanyl trafficked into the United States on the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel in Mexico, which primarily source the chemicals from China.
Schumer introduced a plan last week to combat the increasing number of Tranq users, which would authorize the Food and Drug Administration to track down the drug and spend $537 million for law enforcement and more on drug tests. The plan would be paid for with grant funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, local media reported.
“If we can launch all three of these approaches, the chances of Xylazine becoming the kind of scourge that it has in other places has decreased greatly,” Schumer said.