Sept. 16, 2021 – It’s unclear exactly why xylazine is being added to the U.S. drug supply and whether the people who overdose are aware they are taking the drug. In Philadelphia, some focus groups have found that people who use illegal drugs report that xylazine makes the effects of opioids last longer, Live Science previously reported.

In another study, also published Thursday (Sept. 16) in MMWR, CDC researchers examined how widespread these xylazine-associated deaths are in the U.S. as a whole. The researchers found that, out of 38 states, xylazine-associated deaths were identified in 25 states in 2019.

Still, the total number of overdose deaths involving xylazine in the U.S. appears to be small — out of the more than 45,000 overdose deaths reported in 2019, only about 2% were positive for xylazine, the CDC researchers found. But when xylazine was detected, it was listed as a contributor to death in about two-thirds of cases.


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