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New drug showing up in overdose deaths across Michigan


State health officials are warning people about a dangerous new drug showing up in overdose deaths in Michigan.

Medetomidine is a veterinary tranquilizer similar to xylazine and is showing up in toxicology testing of overdose patients – three deaths since March in Ingham, Berrien and Wayne Counties.

It is not approved for use in people and can cause central nervous system depression and death.

“The reason we are concerned about drugs like medetomidine and xylazine is because they’re not reversed by naloxone. What we’re seeing in general is these newer contaminants is we have fewer tools.”

Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian says Narcan does not reverse the effects of medetomidine and currently there are no testing strips available to detect it. She recommends those who use illicit drugs carry both anyway because medetomidine is showing up in combination with other dangerous additives.

“If you are using, we want you to check your drug supply for contamination with fentanyl and xylazine, and then know that other contaminants are a possibility, things like medetomidine.”

Bagdasarian wants to raise awareness and promote harm reduction practices for those who do use illegal drugs: use less, carry Narcan, and don’t use alone.

“This is making the drug supply deadlier, its making it more potent, and making it harder for us to prevent overdose deaths.”

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