Become a member of 1819
- Access members-only content
- Get an 1819 bumper sticker
- Get the 1819 Quarterly
1819 Member of the club
- Get basic member benefits
- Get an 1819 Tumbler
- Get a hat from 1819
HOOVER – Attorney General Steve Marshall spoke Friday at an event for health care providers focused on the opioid crisis.
The event, held at the Birmingham Ross Renaissance Bridge, involved several experts in the field of medicine.
As the opioid crisis continues, a deadly new drug similar to an opioid has found its way into Alabama unresponsive to antidotes such as NARCAN.
Xylazine is a sedative and pain reliever approved for veterinary use in large animals, such as horses, but is not safe or effective in humans. It is illegal to use on humans, even in a hospital setting. The drug has been blamed for the deaths of 39 people in Jefferson County this year and many more across the country.
When asked about the drug, Marshall said he wasn’t familiar with it, but he planned to see if there was a problem and, if so, what could be done about it. He said he would speak with forensic experts in the state to learn more.
Marshall said synthetic drugs are another problem the state has been dealing with for years. For example, after the state made Kratom illegal a few years ago, illegal drug manufacturers came up with new concoctions to get away with selling the drug.
“As we see these synthetics come up, and we do, number one is we have the opportunity, potentially, for the Department of Public Health to plan so quickly, make it controlled so that we have the ability to make that sale of illegal,” Marshall said. “The next would be to modify our criminal statutes to include that drug.”
Marshall said chemists can sometimes skirt the law to make what they sell “technically legal.”
Dr. Julia Boothe, President of the Alabama State Medical Association, said the good news is that opioid prescriptions have decreased in Alabama over the past 10 years, and the dosage strengths have decreased. However, she said education is critical when it comes to street drugs.
“It will continue,” Boothe said. “And there’s no reversal agent for everything that’s been invented out there. Again, that’s why we say our main goal is, have naloxone, have it available, only take medications that are prescribed to you, and only take that that you get from a pharmacist because you don’t know what you’re taking.”
As for xylazine, Boothe said most of the time people don’t know it’s mixed with the street drug they think they’re taking.
“They’re just getting their regular substance from their dealer, and now all of a sudden, something’s mixed up or compounded,” she said. “So people have to understand the risks, and no one is looking out for you outside of the doctor-patient relationship.”
Marshall said it is vital that quick action is taken on any deadly substance that is killing people in the state.
“If the medical community can make the public health board aware, that’s the quickest option to do something,” Marshall explained.
Marshall said local law enforcement and district attorneys also work together to make changes when new drugs are discovered.
Xylazine causes side effects similar to fentanyl, heroin and other illegal drugs.
You can read more about the drug and what Jefferson County doctor about it here.
To contact the author of this story, or to comment, send email email@example.com.
Do not lose it! Sign up to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.