Criminals Increasingly Mix Xylazine with Fentanyl to Increase Potency, Leading to Overdose Deaths in NH
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and Congressman Chris Pappas introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to crack down on a highly dangerous sedative that poses a new threat in New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic. Xylazine is an easily accessible veterinary tranquilizer that criminals are mixing with fentanyl to increase its potency and lower their production costs, and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services recently issued a health alert about the danger of its usage. Xylazine causes depressed breathing and heart rate, unconsciousness, necrosis, and even death, and naloxone does not reverse its effects because it is not an opioid. Senator Jeanne Shaheen also joined in introducing the legislation.
“Xylazine is hurting New Hampshire communities and contributing to the alarming rate of overdose deaths in our state,” Senator Hassan said. “Our bipartisan bill would take important steps to combat the abuse of xylazine by giving law enforcement more authority to crack down on the illicit distribution of this drug, including by putting stiffer penalties on criminals who are spreading this drug to our communities. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle are seeing the impact of this deadly drug in their states, and we will continue working together to move this critical bill forward.”
“As we continue to see xylazine being mixed with fentanyl, heroin, and other deadly drugs, it’s critical we take action to crack down on illegal use,” said Congressman Pappas. “This legislation would track the manufacture of xylazine, which is legally used as an animal tranquilizer, and ensure law enforcement has the resources needed to crack down on illegal drug traffickers. I hope that this legislation will be swiftly brought to the House floor for a vote, and I’ll continue working across the aisle, and alongside law enforcement and public safety experts, to craft comprehensive solutions that will help combat our ongoing addiction epidemic.”
“The prevalence of Narcan-resistant xylazine has exacerbated the substance use disorder crisis in New Hampshire and across the nation. The level of danger this creates for those who use it, either knowingly or not, is incredibly high and far too often turns deadly,” said Shaheen, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds anti-opioid grant programs. “Our communities have endured the unimaginable and overwhelming grief of losing loved ones to the fentanyl epidemic for too long, and the introduction of xylazine is exacerbating this public health crisis. I’m glad to partner with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on this new bill that would classify xylazine as a Schedule III drug to help get it out of the hands of everyday Granite Staters and Americans. As chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies working to combat the substance use disorder crisis, I’ll continue efforts to stop the flow of these illicit drugs from reaching our communities.”
“Fentanyl and xylazine can be a lethal combination, and it is making New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic even worse,” said Colonel Nathan Noyes of the New Hampshire State Police. “This bipartisan bill from Senator Hassan, Representative Pappas, and Senator Shaheen will take crucial steps to help law enforcement go after the illegal use of this drug and help save lives.”
Despite alarming reports about the rise of xylazine, federal, state and local law enforcement do not have the tools necessary to effectively track it or crack down on traffickers using it to increase their profits.
The bipartisan, bicameral Combating Illicit Xylazine Act would address the current gap in federal law by:
Xylazine is a medication used by some veterinarians and farmers, and the bill cracks down on the illegal distribution of this drug while safeguarding access for professionals who use the drug legally. The bill is supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Senator Hassan is working to crack down on illicit drug trafficking. Senator Hassan recently visited Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to speak with foreign officials about efforts to crack down on drug trafficking. In addition, the most recent year-end funding bill included a measure backed by Senator Hassan and Congressman Pappas to extend fentanyl analogue scheduling, in order to keep criminals from using loopholes to traffic deadly opioids. The Senator successfully worked to secure her bipartisan measure in the 2021 year-end funding bill to hold countries such as China accountable for facilitating America’s fentanyl-fueled substance misuse crisis. Senator Hassan also worked with her colleagues to pass into law the bipartisan INTERDICT Act, which has provided critical tools to Customs and Border Protection to help detect and intercept fentanyl and other illegal synthetic opioids.