Emerging drug ‘Tranq’ leading to amputations: Here’s what you should know

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Health officials say Philadelphia is ground zero for a drug infiltrating the city’s drug supply system.

It’s called “Xylazine” or “Tranq” as it’s known on the street.

Officials say drug suppliers are bundling fentanyl and heroin supplies with the animal tranquilizer because it’s cheap and easy to obtain.

The use of “Tranq” also has disturbing consequences.

Brooke Peder showed us her wounds. She has already had a leg amputated and now worries that she may lose an arm.

“This is necrotic flesh,” she said. “That looks really phenomenal right now,” she said, pointing to the open flesh of her arm.

Peder is among a growing number of users affected by Tranq.

Action News walked the streets of Kensington’s open-air drug market to see its impact. We have seen many people using illegal substances walking around with wound dressings.

“We probably only saw Tranq about 3 or 4 years ago,” said Dr. Joseph D’Orzio.

dr D’Orazio is an associate professor of clinical emergency medicine and an expert in addiction medicine. He said that drug users like Peder didn’t initially know “Tranq” was on the drug supply, but now they do, as is the case in almost all opioid supplies in Philadelphia.

“More than 90% of the bags of heroin fentanyl in Philadelphia are contaminated,” he said.

D’Orazio also said that xylazine mixed with an opioid can produce a stronger effect.

“It’s really cheap,” he said. “Here’s the thing – Xylazine is an extracurricular veterinary drug. It’s easy to obtain and not illegal.”

D’Orazio says “Tranq” induces fast-moving necrotic sores, mostly on extremities and not necessarily injection sites. Necrosis is the death of body tissue.

“I think we’re still in our infancy in understanding this drug,” he added.

“Tranq” also causes a strong sedation. People who inject or snort it often become unconscious for hours. While experts say it hasn’t led to a spike in overdoses, it does cause other withdrawal symptoms like extreme anxiety.

Currently, “Tranq” is heavily focused on supplying the Northeast, but D’Orazio said it’s spreading nationwide.

Outreach groups like Prevention Point in Kensington and the Philadelphia Health Department are now using deployable medical units to help with wound care.

Too often they say the stigma makes wound sufferers reluctant to seek help, but the loss of a limb changes minds.

“They serve more than 75 people a month,” said Jen Shinefeld of the Philadelphia Department of Health. “I’ve been doing this work for 12 years and I’ve never seen wounds like this progress as quickly or as severely as ‘Tranq’ does.”

Brooke Peder said she will continue to tend to her wound, but that hasn’t stopped her from using it, despite knowing that “Tranq” is in the care. Your prognosis… still very uncertain.

“I mean, you don’t know how hard I’ve worked to make it this good,” Peder said.

Doctors also tell us that Narcan will not work to revive a person who is heavily sedated on “Tranq”. Still, they say it should be given because it’s the opioids that have been linked to overdoses.

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https://6abc.com/tranq-drug-what-is-xylazine-philadelphia-supply-animal-tranquilizer/12272608/ Emerging drug ‘Tranq’ leading to amputations: Here’s what you should know

Alley Einstein

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