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Narcan resistant drug 'Tranq' detected in San Diego

Xylazine, commonly known as 'Tranq', is an animal tranquilizer that's being mixed with fentanyl.

SAN DIEGO — A new Narcan-resistant drug 'Tranq' is popping up around the country and even detected here in southern California. It's an animal tranquilizer that's being mixed with fentanyl.

"It has been used for years to tranquilize large animals and wouldn't you know it would start appearing in the drug community," said Dr. Jim Dunford, the Medical Director of the McAlister institute.

The McAlister Institute offers substance abuse treatment in San Diego. Dr. Munford said overdose reversal drugs like Narcan, which reverse opioid overdoses, don't work against Xylazine because it's a sedative. It's often referred to as a zombie-drug because of its damaging effects to human tissue that can lead to infections and even amputations. 'Tranq' is wreaking havoc on the East Coast.

"There's some really awful statistics out of of Philadelphia, 90 percent of the opioids confiscated are cut with this drug," he said.

There's fear its presence could grow in California

"The patterns have been what we see on the East Coast makes it to the West Coast with fentanyl being an example of that," said William Perno, the Senior Prevention Specialist for SAY San Diego.

The San Diego DEA's office says it detected Xylazine 19 times in drugs seized in 2022 and found it four times in 2021. 

"We don't really know how much this drug is in the community because it's a sophisticated test and not something the emergency departments test for," Dr. Dunford said.

For now he's crossing his fingers Xylazine doesn't become a bigger problem here.

"It's a particularly cruel thing on top of everything else the cruelty associated with drug addiction," he said.

Xylazine is also very cheap. Perno said two pounds can be bought for as little as $6.

WATCH RELATED: Vast amounts of fentanyl seizures plague the U.S.-Mexico border (Feb. 2023).


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