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Office of the
Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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May 18, 2023

Springfield - Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general, submitted a letter to urge Congressional leadership in Washington D.C. to pass the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act (H.R.1839/S.993), legislation which would provide critical measures to combat the widespread illicit use and trafficking of xylazine and help prevent xylazine-related deaths.

Raoul and the coalition’s letter comes following a surge in overdose deaths nationwide related to xylazine, a potent veterinary medication that has been widely mixed with opioids like fentanyl and is easily obtainable online. Over the past few months, multiple federal agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have issued public alerts about the dangers of xylazine. Most recently, the White House declared fentanyl-adulterated or -associated xylazine (FAAX) an “emerging threat” to the nation.

“Across the country, rising rates of xylazine use are leading to increased hospitalizations, overdoses and deaths,” Raoul said. “This dangerous drug is often mixed with fentanyl, making its use even more deadly. Congress must pass the vitally important Combating Illicit Xylazine Act to support communities that are continuing to deal with the opioid crisis.”

Xylazine is only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a veterinary medicine – not for use in humans – and used to sedate and relieve pain in large animals. In humans, xylazine is known to depress breathing and heart rate, lower blood pressure, and cause unconsciousness, tissue necrosis and even death. Xylazine is not an opioid, so existing medications like naloxone are not effective in reversing the drug’s effects even if it was used with opioids.

According to the DEA, there was a dramatic increase in xylazine-related overdose deaths across the United States between 2020 and 2021, with an increase of 1,127% in the Southern region, 750% in the Western region, 516% in the Mideast region, and 103% in the Northeast region. Additionally, in 2022, approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.

Attorney General Raoul and the coalition emphasized the importance of the measures outlined in the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act to prevent the proliferation of FAAX in communities and keep people safe, which includes:  

  • Classifying the illicit use of xylazine as a Schedule III drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
  • Allowing the DEA to track the manufacturing and sales of xylazine to ensure that it is not diverted.
  • Requiring the U.S. attorney general, acting through the DEA and in coordination with the FDA commissioner, to submit a report to Congress detailing the prevalence, risks and recommendations on how to regulate the illicit use of xylazine.
  • Ensuring all salts, isomers and other forms of xylazine are also covered when restricting the drug’s illicit use. 

Joining Raoul in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.