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Fentanyl mixed with ‘Tranq’ concerning Portland law enforcement, health experts

By Adrian Thomas

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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — A deadly drug combination gaining prominence nationwide is worrying some health experts and local law enforcement.

Fentanyl mixed with xylazine, also known as ‘tranq,’ is especially alarming at this moment in Portland as the city grapples with an unprecedented fentanyl crisis on the streets.

Despite the alarming levels of fentanyl seen in downtown Portland, a doctor who treats those living on the streets with substance abuse disorder says he hasn’t seen much evidence of xylazine or tranq showing up here yet.

But just in the West alone, the Drug Enforcement Administration found xylazine-related overdose deaths shot up by 750% from 2020 to 2021.

Local and federal medical experts say the drug grew rapidly on the East Coast and has spread across the country.

Dr. Mike Winer helps lead Central City Concerns’ substance abuse clinic in Portland, but completed his residency in Boston, and has seen firsthand tranq’s devastating impacts on the body in recent years. He says his addiction patients in Portland are aware of the new risk.

“Patients who do have chronic exposure to xylazine do have these pretty severe and painful wounds and it’s definitely being talked about among patients,” said Winer. “Our patients are actually our best educators.”

But, that doesn’t take away the seriousness of this trend.”

Officer David Baer with the Portland Police Bureau’s Central Precinct Bike Squad, deals with fentanyl-related cases almost daily in downtown Portland. He says right now it’s a big unknown if xylazine is on Portland’s streets.

“The issue with tranq is we don’t have a test for that,” said Baer. “So, if it is here, we wouldn’t know.”

Dr. Winer says for now, he is not seeing widespread evidence of xylazine in Portland yet.

“If that is the case, it’s probably some small pockets where people are bringing in drug supplies from other areas here,” said Winer. “We get a lot of folks who come in from all over the state and even Washington and we just haven’t been seeing it.”

Dr. Winer also says while Narcan will not have an effect on xylazene, it should always be used on someone who has overdosed and is known to have taken xylazine, because of the likelihood of the xylazene being mixed with fentanyl or another opiate.

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