The White House Drug Czar, Dr. Rahul Gupta, has declared that fentanyl mixed with xylazine, a potent non-opioid veterinary sedative that is not approved for human consumption and has been linked to a growing number of overdose deaths in the United States, represents a “emerging threat” in the country.
In response, Dr. Gupta has called on the federal government to draw up a plan to address the crisis, and has given himself 90 days to submit it, as well as 120 days to send guidelines for application to federal agencies. This marks the first time a presidential administration has formally labeled an illicit drug an “emerging threat” and then required the federal government to take additional action, a legal authority it obtained under the former president’s SUPPORT Act, signed in 2018 by Donald Trump.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy has stated that it will explore a variety of approaches to address this “emerging threat,” including increased public education, increased surveillance of illicit fentanyl-xylazine combinations, and increased law enforcement coordination. Dr. Gupta has also called for the development of new tools and technologies to help identify and respond to fentanyl-xylazine-related overdoses.
The potential danger of fentanyl-xylazine combinations has been well established, and the federal government’s action is a welcome step to address this growing public health crisis. With the support of the Biden administration, the government is now set to take meaningful steps to help protect Americans from the dangers of these illicit drugs.