New legislation unveiled to help combat Tranq epidemic

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Legislators will soon introduce a package of bills to combat the deadly “Tranq” drug epidemic that is destroying lives throughout the Commonwealth.

Tranq is an animal tranquilizer officially called Xylazine that is being laced into street narcotics like fentanyl. The bill package will be introduced during Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week in Pennsylvania to draw attention to the crisis and the crucial role awareness and education play in combatting this problem.

Xylazine and fentanyl drug mixtures place users at a higher risk of suffering fatal drug poisoning. People who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis, the rotting of human tissue, that may lead to amputation. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the American public of a sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine.

The bills are as follows:

  • One legislation would require the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to engage in a public awareness campaign to educate the public about this growing threat
  • Another would formally require the Department of Health to actively monitor the introduction and growth of new drugs on the street. Information would be gathered from all available sources, including our federal partners, local departments of health, coroners and mortality review teams, and existing departmental advisory committees that include service providers who interact daily with those who are struggling with addiction
  • One bill would establish a statewide opioid task force to disrupt drug trafficking
  • Another bill would ban the use of Opioid Settlement Fund money for publicly funded heroin injection sites
  • The last bill aims to improve Opioid Settlement Fund transparency

The legislation is being introduced by Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Bucks), Craig Williams’ (R-Delaware/Chester), Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), Rep. Andrew Kuzma (R-Allegheny/Washington) and Rep. Joe Hogan (R-Bucks).

“We need to re-structure our Commonwealth’s information-gathering apparatus to learn about new drugs entering the streets quickly,” Hogan said. “In the fight to help those with addictions, time lost results in lives lost. ”

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Overdose deaths have skyrocketed in recent years. According to the Pennsylvania Overdose Information Network, there were 4,703 overdoses in the Commonwealth in 2022. Teen overdose deaths have doubled over the past three years. This increase in fatalities, which shows no signs of abating, can largely be attributed to the rise of the unlawful sale and usage of fentanyl, an opiate-based drug that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. New legislation unveiled to help combat Tranq epidemic

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