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‘Zombie drug’ kills 11 after found in pot vapes and counterfeit pills in UK

The “zombie drug” has reached European shores.

A new study from King’s College London published on Wednesday found that xylazine, an animal tranquilizer whose nickname comes from the fact that it causes open ulcers to form on the skin, has entered the illegal drug market in the United Kingdom , appearing in fake marijuana vapes and counterfeits. Codeine and Valium pills.

Research published on Wednesday found xylazine samples taken from 16 people in the UK, 11 of whom had died. The deaths were recorded from December 2022 to August 2023.

“Xylazine has already entered the UK illicit drug market and is not limited to heroin supplies. Urgent action is needed to protect both people who use heroin and the broader population of people who use drugs from its acute and chronic health harms,” the study says.

The arrival of xylazine in Europe threatens to exacerbate the continent’s illicit narcotics problem. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has reported a number of cases in recent years in which xylazine was mixed with the synthetic opioid fentanyl, causing the country’s “deadliest drug threat.” ever been confronted.

This combination of xylazine and opioids such as fentanyl and heroin is known as a “dope tranquilizer.” Like opioids themselves, tranquilizer drugs can lower breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels. The rise of the tranquilizer drug in the United States has further exacerbated the disastrous opioid epidemic.

The drug still poses a relatively new threat to Europe, where it has yet to wreak the widespread devastation seen in the United States. The death of a 43-year-old man in the United Kingdom in May 2022 was the first death linked to xylazine consumption outside the North. America, according to a study published last year.

However, record numbers of drugs have flowed into Europe in recent years, pushing warring gangs to use unprecedented levels of violence to control an illicit market estimated at 30 billion euros a year.

European drug experts have already warned that xylazine is increasingly common in Eastern Europe.

According to the latest annual drugs report from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), published last June, xylazine was present in 13% of syringes collected in Riga, while Estonian police began seizing the drugs in 2022.

The EMCDDA has identified xylazine and new synthetic opioids as future threats. The new opioids are very potent and only small amounts of the drug are needed to produce a large number of doses, putting users at risk of potentially fatal poisoning, the drug report said.

Caroline Copeland, author of the study, says policymakers must take action now to stop xylazine from killing people in Europe. She wants inexpensive test strips to be available, while health care providers need to be aware that chronic skin ulcers are a sign of intravenous xylazine use.

Its co-author, Adam Holland of the University of Bristol, said the growing threat of xylazine reinforced the need to review punitive drug laws.

“We need to expand the range of harm reduction interventions available to people who use drugs, including drug monitoring and overdose prevention centers, to give them the opportunities they need to stay safe” , Holland said in a press release.


Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe.Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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