A powerful animal tranquillizer has been found in Toronto’s street drug supplies for the first time
Toronto’s drug testing service says it has discovered a new, highly potent animal tranquilizer circulating in the city’s uncontrolled drug supply.
The Toronto Drug Checking Service (TDCS), a free and anonymous public health service provided by five harm reduction agencies, said in a Jan. 29 alert that it first identified a substance as either medetomidine or dexmedetomidine late last month.
“Both are used to place animals or people into deeply sedated states, and we have found this drug or drugs in unregulated fentanyl supplies,” said Hayley Thompson, director of TDCS.
“(These medications) depress the nervous and respiratory systems, putting people at greater risk for fatal and non-fatal overdoses.”
Medetomidine is a sedative approved only for use on animals, including dogs, while dexmedetomidine is approved for use in both humans and animals for anesthesia and pain relief.
In total, the service detected the substance in 15 of the 140 samples it tested between December 29 and January 23. All samples were taken from the downtown or west end and are believed to contain fentanyl. The two anesthetic drugs have very similar chemical structures and are being reported together because the service cannot currently differentiate between them, TDCS said.
This discovery highlights how new and dangerous additives continue to appear in Canada’s highly toxic drug supply, putting people who use drugs at greater risk for overdoses and other negative health effects.
watched The street drug is mixed with the toxic animal tranquilizer xylazine:
More than 500 people will die from opioid overdoses in Toronto in 2022, according to Latest city data. However, an Ontario Public Health report last year showed that the number of people in Ontario is increasing They die with multiple toxic drugs in their system.
CBC News previously reported how Xylazine, a very strong veterinary sedativeThey are cut with opioids such as fentanyl to prolong their effects.
Xylazine is commonly used to sedate large farm animals such as cattle and horses, but the sedative is not approved for use in humans in Canada and its long-term effects on human health are unknown. As a central nervous system depressant, it seriously suppresses vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure.
When mixed with fentanyl, it is known as a “drug” or “zombie drug,” and can cause hours of unconsciousness and horrific, painful wounds that can lead to amputation.
a March 2023 report A study from Health Canada shows the rapid spread of xylazine across the country over the past few years, with a growing number of street drug samples seized by law enforcement agencies testing positive for the tranquilizer — overwhelmingly in Ontario.
TDCS said medetomidine and dexmedetomidine are more effective than xylazine because they are longer acting and produce greater sedation.
Those who use them may enter a “deep state of unconsciousness” and the risk of severe drowsiness and sedation is increased when used with high-potency opioids and the benzodiazepine-related medications and xylazine.
TDCS said all of the samples it tested containing medetomidine/dexmedetomidine contained at least one high-potency opioid, such as fentanyl or carfentanil, and many also contained a benzodiazepine-related drug or xylazine.
Naloxone, a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses, does not work on them because they are not opioids.
Zoe Dodd, co-founder of the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society, said she’s not surprised that the latest toxic additive has appeared in the drug supply.
Drug producers sometimes add substances such as benzodiazepines or animal tranquilizers to mimic or extend the effects of opioids such as fentanyl, which can be short-acting, Dodd said.
“The cocktail of drugs that ends up in Toronto’s drug supply has been incredibly toxic for several years now,” Dodd said.
“It has been 10 years since this crisis, and things are still getting worse by the minute.”
watched How a rotting ‘zombie drug’ is complicating the overdose crisis:
TDCS said drug users can reduce potential harm by checking drugs before use, using them in supervised consumption centers, using them with others or letting others know if you are using them alone, and calling 911 in the event of an overdose.
Toronto Public Health said in a statement that the city is still suffering from a drug poisoning crisis. It calls for increased federal and provincial investments in prevention, harm reduction, and treatment support.
“Overdoses and deaths resulting from toxic drug supplies are preventable,” TPH said.
More and expanded harm reduction services, Dodd and Thompson said Trial programs There is a need to give people who use drugs access to a safe and regulated supply of medicines.
Otherwise, people would still be forced to get their medications from an unregulated source that is “incredibly volatile, incredibly unpredictable, and incredibly powerful,” Thompson said.