Interior Health has issued a drug advisory for a new substance recently detected in samples tested from Cranbrook and Kelowna.
According to lab results, Xylazine was identified in both samples, along with caffeine, erythritol and fentanyl or a fentanyl analogue and benzodiazepines.
Xylazine is a veterinary drug used as a sedative, analgesic and muscle relaxant that has not been approved for use by humans, according to Interior Health.
The University of British Columbia - Okanagan harm reduction team tested the Kelowna sample on July 4, while confirmatory samples from Cranbrook were tested on July 12.
Given timing and geographic distance between Cranbrook and Kelowna, it is possible Xylazine may be circulating in other local drug supply chains, according to Interior Health.
Historically, Xylazine has not been regularly detected in B.C.’s drug supply.
The advisory notes Xylazine, or Tranq, is prevalent in the eastern United States and has appeared regularly in Ontario.
Naloxone, a life-saving medication administered to reverse the effects of an overdose, will not work on Xylazine, however it will work on any opioids that are present.
Xylazine can be fatal on its own, but the dose and response curve is unclear. It can greatly increase the risk of overdose and long blackouts, coma and deaths have been reported.
Abscesses and other skin laceration that do not heal on their own can be associated with Xylazine use.
Interior Health is asking people to be on the lookout for Xylazine clinical presentations and to inform local harm reduction teams if they occur.
Drug checking services are recommended, as Xylazine is easily identified by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) if it’s concentration is above the detection threshold. However, it cannot be detected with test strips.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.