US Declares FAAX an Emerging Drug Threat

Drug czar Dr. Rahul Gupta promises nationwide plan
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2023 11:47 AM CDT
Fentanyl-Xylazine Combo Labeled a National Threat
Dr. Rahul Gupta, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, walks outside of the White House, Nov. 18, 2021, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The Biden administration is cracking down on xylazine or "tranq," labeling the combination of it and fentanyl an "emerging threat." The Office of National Drug Control Policy announced the designation on Wednesday, per the Guardian. It's the first time an administration has added a substance to this category of fast-growing drug threats since it was established in 2018, per CNN. ONDCP Director Dr. Rahul Gupta said the move—which allows the administration to develop a nationwide response—was necessary as fentanyl-adulterated or -associated xylazine (FAAX) has now been found in 48 states. The animal tranquilizer xylazine was discovered in 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA in 2022, the agency said last month, per CNN.

Fatal overdoses tied to xylazine—which lengthens overdoses and depresses breathing and heart rates to potentially deadly levels—are up more than 1,000% in the South and 750% in the West, said the drug czar. "We cannot ignore what we're seeing, and we must act, and act now," Gupta said, per USA Today. He promised a "government nationwide plan, with real deliverable action, that will save lives and will be published within 90 days of this designation," per CNN. He said the ONDCP would request $11 million to develop an antidote to FAAX, which is not counteracted by the opioid-targeting naloxone; research how it got into the drug supply; and come up with a strategy to stop its spread. (The FDA has also moved to prevent the drug's spread.)

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