New ‘tranq’ drug could worsen SF’s fentanyl crisis

As San Francisco struggles to deal with its fentanyl overdose crisis, authorities are on high alert that another drug colloquially known as “tranq” – an animal sedative typically used in large cattle – could seep into the street supply and cause more death and disability.

The pharmaceutical drug xylazine has already appeared in East Coast cities, further devastating those communities. The drug may increase the risk of overdose, worsen withdrawal, and increase the risk of injury resulting in amputation for those who inject it.

Although it hasn’t yet landed on any obvious scale in San Francisco or California, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told The Chronicle on Tuesday that it is developing a universal testing method for xylazine that it will begin for use early this year for all fatal overdoses. The office also plans to retrospectively test all 2,022 suspected overdose cases to see if the drug was present in any of the deceased.

“It’s definitely on our radar,” a spokesperson for the medical examiner said in an email. “We have been in communication with our colleagues at the San Francisco Department of Public Health as well as colleagues at other forensic laboratories in California.”

San Francisco sees an average of one to two overdose deaths a day, largely from fentanyl, the highly addictive super-potent opioid. The introduction of xylazine into the city’s drug supply could be a catastrophic new phase in the city’s opioid epidemic, which has already overwhelmed public health officials and divided city leaders over how. to face it.

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