HOUSTON — It was only a matter of time, and now, it's here.
It's been coined "zombie drug" and "tranq," among other names and it's a dangerous mixture of drugs that has led to the deaths of at least four Texans, according to the state health department.
The Texas Department of State Health Services issued a health advisory to notify health care providers about xylazine, an animal tranquilizer that's being mixed with other drugs being distributed in Texas. Authorities found xylazine in the illegal fentanyl supply in West Texas.
It's also called "sleep cut" and "Philly drug," officials said.
What does it do?
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, xylazine produces a strong sedative effect and can prolong the high of opioids and other drugs.
It can cause unconsciousness, low blood pressure, a slowed heart rate and breathing, and may cause organ damage due to a loss of blood flow.
Chronic use can cause necrotic skin ulcers and severe sores that can kill skin tissue and lead to infection.
Since it's not an opioid, Narcan doesn't work against it, although since it's usually used along with fentanyl and other opioids, DSHS is still recommending clinicians treat suspected overdoses with naloxone.
"Health care providers should also consider chronic xylazine exposure as a possible diagnosis for patients with severe and unexplained necrotic skin ulcers," the DSHS said in the advisory.