PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro is taking a major step to stop the spread of a deadly drug known as tranq.
During a speech in the Kensington section of Philadelphia on Tuesday, Shapiro announced he is ordering that xylazine become classified as a schedule III narcotic.
Xylazine, which is often used by veterinarians to sedate large animals, is known as tranq on the streets and is being cut into many other drugs by dealers.
When mixed with an opioid, xylazine can create a stronger high.
However, it has a disturbing side effect: users can suffer open wounds and death of body tissue.
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Shapiro says it has been found in about 90 percent of the drug supply in Philadelphia, and contributed to 575 overdose deaths across the state in 2021.
Veterinarians can continue using the drug to sedate animals, but it puts them under tighter regulations on how it must be handled, tracked and stored.
The move will allow the state to put in place tighter controls, security and record-keeping requirements for xylazine.
Manufacturers will have to take steps to verify that the person who ordered the drug is the one who received it, and the drugs must be stored in locked facilities.
In addition, law enforcement will be able to charge people in illegal possession of xylazine.
Xylazine was detected in about 800 drug deaths in the U.S. in 2020 and more than 3,000 in 2021, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.