Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center warns of so-called zombie drug
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVG) - The Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center is warning Ohioans of dangerous substances found in the state that some U.S. lawmakers have called a “zombie drug.” ONIC issued a safety bulletin about veterinary sedative xylazine. Officials said it’s been found in illegal drugs and is frequently mixed with heroin, fentanyl or new synthetic opioids.
It comes as Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order Wednesday to classify xylazine as a Schedule 3 controlled substance, making Ohio one of the first states to do so. The move will allow for better and more widespread testing for the drug. It also makes the sale and trafficking of xylazine a criminal offense.
It’s a central nervous system depressant used by vets as a sedative, anesthetic and muscle relaxant, ONIC said. Officials warn the dangerous side effects can’t be reversed by naloxone.
“The rate of overdose deaths involving a mixture of xylazine and other drugs is increasing at an alarming rate, which is exactly why we need to take action now,” DeWine said in a statement.
ONIC said some crime labs in Ohio estimate that 25 to 30 percent of today’s fentanyl cases also include xylazine. It also said the presence of the drug in mixed in with other drugs and in the number of overdoses are underreported because most toxicology labs don’t test for the presence of uncontrolled substances.
“When used in combination with an opioid, xylazine may worsen respiratory depression in the event of a drug overdose,” a statement from DeWine’s office said. “Human consumption of xylazine is also known to cause debilitating skin ulcers that cause tissue decay and bacterial infections, which can lead to amputation at higher rates than those who inject other drugs.”
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