Congressional offices consider making xylazine a controlled substance
With illicit xylazine increasingly showing up in street drugs that pose grave risks to human users, government policymakers are discussing making it a controlled substance. The AVMA is closely engaged with the relevant congressional offices and committees, working to maintain veterinary access to this important drug.
A societal problem
Across the United States, drug traffickers are mixing xylazine with fentanyl and other narcotics. This combination of illicit street drugs is dangerously potent, resulting in an increased toll on human life. Because xylazine isn’t an opioid, its effects can’t be reversed with the opioid-fighting drug naloxone, which complicates efforts of first responders and emergency physicians.
The problem is gaining national attention, both in the news media and among lawmakers. High-profile articles have appeared recently in USA Today, the New York Times, Fox News, and numerous other media outlets.
Now, congressional lawmakers are considering scheduling xylazine as a controlled substance by legislation. We also understand that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has begun its internal process to schedule the drug. This change in status from a veterinary prescription drug to a drug scheduled under the federal Controlled Substances Act is intended to provide additional tools for law enforcement and bring stricter punishments to bear on the illicit market.
Policymakers understand that there currently isn’t significant xylazine diversion from veterinary channels; however scheduling xylazine to help control the illicit trade will impact use of the drug in veterinary medicine.
What is the AVMA doing to mitigate disruption?
Given both the scale of the opioid crisis and the severe consequences for people using narcotics containing xylazine, it is probable that Congress and the DEA will move ahead with plans to schedule xylazine as a controlled substance.
As policy discussions on the topic move forward, the AVMA is working very hard to lessen the impacts of such a decision on veterinary practice. The AVMA continues to engage with many congressional offices and committees, building on relationships and trust built over time.
The AVMA’s advocacy efforts on this issue include:
- Educating members of Congress and their staffs about the important, legitimate uses of xylazine across many areas of veterinary medicine, and emphasizing the lack of practical alternatives for use in cattle, horses, and many wildlife and zoo animal species.
- Working to prevent xylazine from being scheduled federally at a higher level than necessary.
- Advocating for a reasonable implementation timeframe to allow for manufacturers to transition to a scheduled status.
- Promoting provisions to allow dispensing of xylazine for chemical restraint in livestock, zoo, and wildlife species for use by appropriate personnel.
As the nation’s leading advocate for veterinary medicine, the AVMA ensures that veterinarians' voices are heard on important public policy issues that impact our profession. At the national level, AVMA works directly with members of Congress and federal agencies, developing strong working relationships that empower our profession to open doors and hold conversations on important policy topics, such as this one.
For continuing updates on this and other advocacy-related issues, subscribe to receive the free AVMA Advocate newsletter.
While prescribing guidelines and sensible restrictions would have done much to prevent the current opioid epidemic, the focus now should be on treatment, not on restriction of every new drug that can be abused
Absolutely agree. More regulations are just making it harder for the honest people to do business.
Xylazine is an important part of a large animal practice. We use xylazine daily to sedate and or anesthetize large animals so that we can perform surgeries and other medical procedures. The availability of xylazine is crucial to treat large animals.
Making xylazine a controlled substance would cause supply chain issues as some manufacturers could chose to not produce the product. This will cause extreme market price increases in a time of already challenging inflation and supply chain issues.
1. If it not coming through veterinary channels where is it coming from?
2. Every horse owner I know has "Rompum" in their barn, trailer, etc. It needs to be a schedule II or III.
Generally authorities find it in the bulk, powdered form not the solution utilized in veterinary medicine. As for the source of the bulk, many bulk drugs are manufactured in Asia. Been a huge issue with US/China relations with the Chinese manufacturing of bulk substances utilized in the creation of meth.
I am opposed to scheduling xylazine as a Schedule III drug. Currently, xylazine is regulated by FDA and xylazine is not a product approved for human use. This product is primarily used in livestock, which includes horses, in Iowa. Passage or enacting this change will impact veterinarians with additional lock-up requirements, additional record keeping requirements, would increase susceptibility of veterinarians to additional liability and veterinary licensing actionability, and potentially lead to increase of pricing and shortages of xylazine. Also, controlled drug distributors would have additional record keeping and storage requirements. Illicit and current controlled substances fall to the authorities of the DEA and see no beneficial purpose of adding xylazine to their responsibilities at the peril of AVMA veterinarians. Thank you for your consideration.
If this legislation is passed there should be accountability of demonstrating this action has resulted in a positive action step.
This is a problem that has a source from drug diversion, illegal compounding, and the ability to purchase prescription drugs from non-veterinary sources, such as internet pharmacies. Yet the proposed solution is one that unduly places the burden on veterinarians using the medication as it was intended to be used. I hope we can help to educate about how frequent the use in large animal veterinary medicine is. I reach for xylazine daily, usually multiple times per day, and some times up to 30 times a day. Placing controlled substance requirements on this medication would create situations where my clinic would be less able to use the medication without hesitating to consider the accompanying paperwork. This would create an environment where myself and my employees would be in harms way because we chose NOT to sedate an animal, because the reporting requirements of doing so are a burden.
Isn't it already illegal to sell this without a prescription? To divert it? There must be ways to enforce the already ILLEGAL use of a medication without creating a massive burden on the LEGAL use of the medication.
Marcus Hutka, DVM
Drug prohibition hasn't worked in the past, isn't working now, and won't work in the future. The risk of consuming tainted drugs should be born by the drug user, not by the Veterinary profession. This will likely cause the price of Xylazine to rise and place an undue burden on our profession and will likely cause other problems we cannot forsee at this point in time.
Xylazine being classified as a controlled drug.
Alexander Lane DVM said it best. This is a misdirected effort that is not likely to impact illicit use.
It has long been known that Xylazine is potentially dangerous to humans, and it has been used safely for many years in the veterinarian community. I feel that at this time it is unethical to dispense Xylazine without guidance and supervision. We control the use of Xylazine in our practices and we are either part of the problem or part of the solution
We need to admit the problem is two fold. One is a society that will take and abuse any substance to get high. This problem will never be solved by over regulation and all we have to do is look at the Fentanyl situation. Second is the lack of ethics within our own ranks. Handing our bottles of everything from antibiotics to sedative's to euthanasia solution only puts our profession in a questionable light and leaves us open to regulation from a third party.
Just say no!
The fact that Naloxone does not work on Xylazine should not be a factor in this decision. There are perfectly good reversal agents available for Xylazine. Yohimbine if you can get it and Atipemezole (Antisedan/Revertidine). Give first responders Atipemezole also in addition to Naloxone. It won't stop the abuse but it will save lives. Making Xylazine a controlled substance is NOT THE ANSWER.
The old adage applies here, Don't leap before you look! Spend more time considering all ramifications, there seem to be quite a few. I liked the idea of adding a drug to law enforcement and rescue personal that will address this problem without adding reams of paperwork. Also, in the long run will, save time and be less expensive. Thank You. Imelda Black
Laboratory Animal Medicine will be affected too
In addition to the common use of xylazine for large animal and wildlife, please remember that xylazine is used daily for animals in research settings. Ranging from anesthetic cocktails for rodents and rabbits, to sedation for our pigs, ruminants, and non-human primates. This is going to affect more of the veterinary community than the AVMA is acknowledging in this memo.
Please fight to reduce regulatory burden. As many have already pointed out, this legislation is going to create a multitude of issues beyond where we store our drugs, and I believe will be detrimental to our profession.
Please advocate AGAINST this move.
The only one they can regulate are the ones with licenses...hence the low hanging fruit. Also agree that we have enough supply issues without changes to Xylazine and decisions of manufacturers to potentially withdraw products .
another stupid idea that…
another stupid idea that wont solve the problem just add to rules and regulations that dont help animals just employ another bureaucrat and cost more money
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