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News 9 KWTV - Oklahoma City

Overdoses Not Responding To Narcan, OBN Says Drugs Contain Horse Tranquilizer Xylazine To Blame


A horse tranquilizer, Xylazine, is making its way into Oklahoma street drugs. The drug is hard to identify, and it can cause some gruesome injuries. This drug overdose problem is becoming common.

“We’re seeing as many as seven to 10 overdoses at our Oklahoma City Hospitals on any given night,” Mark Woodward with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics said.

Woodard’s office tries to stay ahead of these mixed drugs, but it’s hard.

“We didn’t know about them until there were autopsy reports,” Woodward said. “You’re seeing new variations that are cut with Xylazine. It can absolutely paralyze the body.”

Dealers mix Xylazine also known as “tranq” into various street drugs as a booster.

“Xylazine can be used to tranquilize horses, elephants,” Woodward said.

People can buy Xylazine online for less than $20. The person who overdoses with this drug in their system often has no idea they even took it.

“Before they know they’ve completely locked up,” Woodward said.

Oklahoma Highway Troopers like Eric Foster have a tough time knowing what they find.

“It had medicine in it for horses,” said Foster, describing drugs he found at a traffic stop. “It had lots of different things in there.”

The batch of drugs Foster is talking about put him in the hospital.

“I ended up in the ER,” Foster said.

Xylazine produces some gruesome side effects when left untreated.

“They will lose fingers, they lose toes,” Woodward said. “They’ll lose arms and legs.”

Addiction is more powerful than the consequences of these drugs.

“They’re using drugs just to get out of misery for short periods of time,” Woodward said.

Xylazine is not an opioid.

“There’s nothing that law enforcement or first responders can do when they roll up on the scene because in many cases Narcan will not work,” Woodward said.

Oklahoma Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, authored Senate Bill 668 to make Xylazine a controlled substance. This could offer one way to make a frequent problem less common.

“Get it off the road so it doesn’t go down the line and harm someone else,” Foster said.

Woodward said the goal is to make the drug harder for criminals to buy, without banning Xylazine from people like veterinarians.

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