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Pennsylvania Will Make the Animal Sedative Xylazine a Controlled Substance

TOPSHOT - People watch the April's full moonset, also known as the "Pink Moon", rising behind the clouds in Singapore on April 24, 2024. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro will sign legislation to criminalize the misuse of a powerful animal tranquilizer called xylazine that is showing up in supplies of illicit drugs and contributing to a growing number of human overdose deaths, his office said Wednesday.

Xylazine, which is being mixed into fentanyl and other illicit opioids, will remain legal for its intended use by veterinarians.

The bill received approval from the state House of Representatives and the Senate in the past week.

Under the bill, Xylazine will be listed as a “schedule III” drug under Pennsylvania’s controlled substance law, formalizing an order that Shapiro issued last year when Pennsylvania joined a growing list of states that were moving to restrict access to Xylazine.

Xylazine is a prescription sedative used by veterinarians to safely handle and treat farm animals, wildlife, zoo animals and household pets such as cats and dogs.

Officials say the pain-relieving, muscle-relaxing drug, sometimes referred to as “tranq,” is often abused by being added to fentanyl and heroin. It was detected in 3,000 U.S. drug deaths in 2021, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

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The illicit use of schedule III drugs carries a penalty of imprisonment of up to five years. The law would require that the drug be stored safely when used professionally, to prevent theft or improper access.

Xylazine, sometimes known as tranq, can cause breathing and heart rates to fall to dangerous levels when used in humans. When injected it can cause large open sores and infections, sometimes leading to amputation.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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