Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
Washington, D.C. – In response to the White House today designating fentanyl combined with xylazine as an emerging threat, Maritza Perez Medina, Director of the Office of Federal Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
“We, too, are concerned about xylazine and agree that more public health tools are urgently needed. This should include public education, evidence-based treatment and harm reduction, xylazine test strips and other life-saving overdose prevention services, such as overdose prevention centers. And because xylazine is most often combined with opioids, we should continue to double down on increasing access to naloxone and medications to treat opioid use disorder, like methadone and buprenorphine. We should also fund further research into xylazine, its potential harms and benefits, and possible antagonists that could reverse xylazine-involved overdoses, similar to the way naloxone can reverse opioid-involved overdoses.
“Yet, in order for these to be fully effective, the Biden Administration must learn from the mistakes of the past and not push more supply-side interdiction policies. They are incredibly counterproductive and lead to a more unknown and potentially more potent drug supply. Crackdowns on prescription opioids and heroin created the conditions for fentanyl analogues to flourish and overtake the drug supply. And now history is once again repeating itself, with newer, potentially more harmful substances—like xylazine—popping up and already overtaking some markets. Make no mistake, focusing on supply-side interdiction will only dig us deeper into this crisis and inevitably result in more loss of life.”