Advocates call for more testing kits for xylazine
With powerful tranquilizers infiltrating the illicit opioid supply in Canada and the United States, people using opioids are looking for ways to test their drugs before using them.
Harm reduction expert Shannon Hart said it’s because xylazine (also known as trunk) increases the chances of an overdose.
“We’ve seen people drop like flies, usually people who know their dose of a substance,” Hart told Global News. are being introduced, causing more overdose and destruction in communities.”
Xylazine, a sedative and analgesic commonly used in veterinary medicine to sedate large animals such as cattle and horses, is wreaking havoc in parts of the United States, especially Philadelphia. Philadelphia detected in 90% of dope samples tested in the city by 2021, according to data released by Substance Use Philadelphia.
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Drug testing has become an important tool for determining whether street drugs are laced with substances such as fentanyl.
A test for xylazine has only recently entered the market and is not yet widely available.
BTNX Inc. CEO Iqbal Sunderani learned about the harm drugs are causing, especially in Philadelphia, when he was attending a Harm Reduction conference in Puerto Rico.
“Our R&D[department]quickly evaluated this and identified a specific antibody that binds to this drug. I sent it to,” Sanderani told Global News.
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Independent testing has proven the effectiveness of the test strips.
“By alerting users to the presence of fentanyl or xylazine, effective countermeasures can be taken. Educated and informed users can make decisions,” Sunderani said. .
Repeated exposure to xylazine can cause serious harm. McDonald says he doesn’t respond to naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of opiates, making overdoses with opioids mixed with this sedative more difficult to treat.
People who take drugs containing xylazine can also develop severe necrotic skin ulcers, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It has led to disconnection among some repeat users.
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The test strips are designed to be easy for anyone to use. But getting those strips was a challenge.
Hart, who also works with the Street Cats grassroots group, had to search extensively to procure test strips at about $1 each in 100-count boxes.
“You can get what you can do when you can, and how you can do it, just by talking to other people in your community. It’s really nice to see it become affordable,” she said.
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BTNX has federal approval for test devices, but Sunderani said his company is working with other Canadian organizations.
BTNX CEO said, “We have received a request from Vancouver Coastal Health to submit some samples. See how effective these tests are.
As for the tests they can take, Hart said, “We give them out on a regular basis.
“But there’s demand. We can’t get enough strips.”
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