A new drug testing kit, which identifies the presence of xylazine AKA ‘tranq’ or ‘tranq dope’, is being rolled out in the USA to combat accidental overdoses.
According to Mail reporting, the drug – which is normally used as an animal tranquliser – has been increasingly used to cut more commonly found drugs including cocaine, MDMA and heroin, in order to make supply go further, as well as enhance or increase their effects.
The kits were found to be 91% accurate in testing for the presence of xylazine and give results in just five minutes.
A box of 100 tests costs $200, which at $2 a test costs more than the average fentanyl test kit, which costs roughly one dollar a strip.
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Kits will also be provided to public health workers, health departments and harm-reduction groups at local levels.
Multiple side effects have been reported from the drug, which include skin ulcers, wounds and necrosis – the rotting of human flesh.
To date its presence in drugs has been detected in 48 of the 50 states, and poses a high risk of death from overdose, with around one third of drug overdose deaths in Philadelphia involving xylazine, according to NPR statistics. 90% of all drugs seized in the city since 2021 contained traces of it.
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Speaking about the rollout of the tests, Alex Krotulski, a forensic toxocologist at the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education, a Philadelphia lab that recently published a study of their effectiveness told The Mail: “It’s exactly the same concept as fentanyl test strips.
“Their utility is really going to be among people who are using opioids who want to know if their opioids are adulterated.”
Last Monday (March 20), the US Drug Enforcement Administration issued an alert warning of the dangers of the drug, particularly when mixed with fentanyl. DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said: “Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier.
“The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine,” she continued.
Isaac Muk is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter