Mexico sounds alarm over ‘zombie drug’ sedative in opioids

Mexican public health officials are sounding an alarm after a study discovered the presence of animal tranquilizer Xylazine in opioids in cities on the country’s northwest border with the United States.

Known by names like “tranq dope” and “zombie drug,” Xylazine cut into heroin and fentanyl has in recent years worsened the opioid scourge in U.S. cities like Philadelphia.

On April 8, Mexico’s health ministry in conjunction with the mental health and addiction commission issued an alert “for health personnel and first responders in Mexican border cities for possible adulteration of heroin and fentanyl with Xylazine.”

Because it is a sedative but not an opioid, Xylazine can make opioid overdose reversal treatments less effective and raise the risk of fatal drug poisoning, while also causing severe skin abscesses that can be life-threatening.


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