AVMA endorses federal legislation to address illicit xylazine

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A newly proposed law backed by the AVMA would help combat the emerging threat posed by illicit xylazine while protecting veterinary access to this important animal sedative.

The Combating Illicit Xylazine Act was introduced into Congress on Tuesday, culminating weeks of work by the AVMA and other important stakeholders. The bill’s provisions would equip law enforcement with additional tools to stop xylazine trafficking while maintaining veterinarians’ ability to legitimately use xylazine. 

It strikes the right balance of protecting our communities while preserving veterinary access to this critically important animal drug.

If it becomes law, the legislation will make the manufacture, distribution, dispensing, or possession of illicit xylazine subject to Schedule III penalties under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Illicit use of xylazine includes any use, or intended use, in people and would address any diversion of xylazine from veterinary sources. At the same time, the legitimate veterinary uses would remain under their current prescription status.

Highlights of the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act

  • Manufacture, distribution, dispensing, and possession of illicit xylazine would be subject to Schedule III penalties, engaging the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and allowing for harsher punishments when xylazine is handled illegally.
  • The legitimate importation, manufacture, dispensing, and administration of xylazine for non-human species would not be subject to the restrictions and requirements of scheduling. 
  • Any diversion of xylazine from the veterinary supply chain for illicit use would be subject to the penalties of a Schedule III drug. 
  • Manufacturers and distributors would report sales of veterinary xylazine to the DEA through a tracking system that would identify unusual activity or changes in ordering patterns. 
  • The DEA would submit a report to Congress detailing the prevalence and impacts of illicit xylazine use in the United States. 

Why are lawmakers looking at xylazine?

Illicit xylazine is increasingly showing up in street drugs as traffickers have begun mixing it with fentanyl and other narcotics. This potent combination poses grave health and safety risks to human users. Because xylazine isn’t an opioid, its effects can’t be reversed with the opioid-reversing drug naloxone, complicating the efforts of first responders and emergency physicians.

The AVMA does not believe there is substantial diversion of xylazine from veterinary channels, and the bill includes provisions to identify and address any that does occur. The AVMA will continue working with lawmakers, federal agencies, and stakeholders to help combat illicit xylazine while making clear the importance of xylazine in veterinary medicine and the need for veterinarians to continue to access it for the animals under our care.

“The AVMA fully supports this congressional effort to combat illicit xylazine,” said AVMA President Dr. Lori Teller. “We urge Congress to pass the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act quickly as it strikes the right balance of protecting our communities while preserving veterinary access to this critically important animal drug."

The Combating Illicit Xylazine Act was introduced into Congress by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.); and Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), August Pfluger (R-Texas), Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.).

How can you help? 

There will be a time when the voices of individual veterinarians, team members, and animal owners will be crucial to secure passage of this important bill. The AVMA is actively engaged with the legislation’s progress and will alert advocates through the Congressional Advocacy Network when you can have the greatest impact by reaching out to your members of Congress about the importance of xylazine in veterinary medicine and the urgency to pass the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act. In the meantime, sign up for the Congressional Advocacy Network to make sure you receive this notice. 


Ernie Beier DVM, MS
March 28, 2023 Permalink


It is my understanding that yohibine (sp) is a reversal agent for xylazine but was taken off the market years ago. Maybe that drug should be mentioned in the bill to bring it back so it could be used to reverse the effects of the Xylazine.
It appears that the government wants to take Xylazine into the controlled drug catagory. Which will include all the record keeping being currently used for other controlled drugs such as ketamine. The difference is that Xylazine is used significantly more than ketamine. Additionally what about all the drugs in the same class as xylazine such as acepromazine, detomanine, dexdetomadine, and alike.


Yohimbine HCL is the reversal for xylazine. I purchased 3 vials today actually.

Xylazine schedule proposition

Doesn't it seem ironic that fentanyl is scheduled and illegally making its way into the streets that if we made xylazine scheduled and illegal that this is supposed to fix everything. Especially that we know the fentanyl chain starts in China and is brought into the US through 2 well known drug cartels? Maybe if we make another United States law that says its illegal both China and the Mexican drug cartels just won't do it anymore.

Xylazine restrictive legislation

The problem is not with the veterinary profession. As professionals we take an oath to protect animal health and this , interacts directly with human health.. Both of these are closely related. We as a profession do not want to cause any harm to humans,how they get these drugs is where the emphasis should be. Veterinarians shouldnt be saddled with more paperwork that does nothing to stop drug abuse and will only make it harder and more expensive to use xylazine, thus punishing its legitmate use by the veterinary profession in animal health. I remember how vets happily received this drug in the early 1970*s, it helped the animals. Please get rid of this for human abuse by attacking where it comes from. I can certainly be contacted for any questions/concerns re this matter. Sincerely, Ben L. Pearson DVM

March 30, 2023 Permalink

I believe the point of the…

I believe the point of the above article is the AVMA is trying to not change the scheduling for veterinary professionals thus making no extra work for veterinarians. According to the article above it would make the drug a scheduled drug so humans abusing it can be prosecuted it while veterinarians could use it as they do now. "The legitimate importation, manufacture, dispensing, and administration of xylazine for non-human species would not be subject to the restrictions and requirements of scheduling. "


1970 we used an experimental drug in surgery lab called"Bayvay 1470". turned out to be xylazine, brand name Rompun. I caried this drug in my vet box and used it successfully for over 40 years. To my knowledge never lost a drop to anything except use in horses . I would hate to see this product become a paperwork nightmare.


Do not make a xylazine a controlled drug. If "druggies" want it, they will obtain it.

Emily Galloway, DVM
April 04, 2023 Permalink

Xylazine --We don't need another controlled drug!

This sounds to me like yet another example of how legislators attempt to "fix" something with more laws and regulation that in reality ONLY make hard working Americans' lives more tedious, difficult, and expensive. How many tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of laws do we have to pass before we figure out that this strategy doesn't make life any better for anyone? More laws equals less liberty and we definitely don't need that. Drug abuse is about a lack of morality and intelligence and you can't legislate either! Please no more laws or controlled drugs! Sincerely, Emily Galloway DVM

I totally concur with Dr…

I totally concur with Dr. Galloway's comments!

Dr. Mark Hitchcock
April 27, 2023 Permalink


Just one more paper work requirement.. with no benefit to the drug abuse situation it is being required for… like more gun control for the legal gun owner… the illegal network will continue to access the drug because the veterinary profession is not the source for the illicit market..!!

Travis Gratton DVM
April 28, 2023

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)


Obviously this bill is a…

Obviously this bill is a classic political "we need to do something" response. Won't actually address the real issue and burdens people following the rules, but allows them to claim they did something when it comes time for re-election. Very much like the anti-2A proposals

Xylazine source?

The article states "The AVMA does not believe there is substantial diversion of xylazine from veterinary channels..." No one has made any statements regarding the source of the Xylazine in the illicit product trade. If AVMA truly believes that we are not responsible then why are they supporting more regulation and headaches for the practitioners? I suspect the source is manufacturers of the raw material in other countries and subsequent illegal compounding specifically for trafficking. I find it very unlikely that the legal injectable formulations are being diverted to the extent that would explain the widespread and growing street use. AVMA needs to call BS on this bill and tell congress to go after the problem, not burden practitioners.

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