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Shapiro Administration makes xylazine temporarily illegal in Pa.

The new order by the Department of Health took effect on June 3 and is effective for one year.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Xylazine, or ‘tranq’ as it’s also called, is a powerful sedative approved by the FDA for veterinary use.

But it’s becoming increasingly found mixed in with other street drugs and according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, it's contributing to more and more overdose deaths every year.

“We’re seeing it more, we’re seeing it in more counties and that’s been the trend nationwide," said Greg Rowe, executive director of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

According to the Department of Health, xylazine contributed to 90 overdose deaths in 2017.

That jumped to 575 overdose deaths across 30 counties in 2021, an increase of over 600 percent in just 5 years. It’s also becoming increasingly prevalent in Philadelphia – in 2021, the City of Philadelphia reported that 90 percent of street opioid samples tested contained xylazine. 

All of this is why Rowe is ecstatic the Department of Health has used its executive power to make xylazine illegal.

“[It's] just a great use of the authority it has and that will give law enforcement the tools it needs to hold traffickers of this devastating drug accountable," he said.

The measure is only temporary for now.

It took effect on June 3 and is effective for one year, which is what the law allows.

Rowe says the next step is for the state legislature to make it permanent.

“This gives the legislature time now to look at it, study it and to enact legislation that will put it on the list, much like fentanyl is on the list, heroin is on the list, and this is an equally deadly drug," he said.

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