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Authorities identify a veterinary drug is behind slew of overdoses in Austin that left 2 dead

More than a dozen people were rushed to the hospital while there were seven confirmed overdoses. (Pexels)

Travis County authorities have confirmed one of the drugs responsible for a series of overdoses that resulted in two deaths and a dozen hospitalizations on Friday morning, leading to a statewide investigation.


According to the Austin-Travis County Office of the Chief Medical Officer, a veterinary drug called Xylazine, a sedative, pain reliever and muscle relaxer, is at least partially responsible for the rise in opiate overdoses. When used in humans, side effects include depression, blurred vision and hypotension.

Investigators believe the overdoses, which Travis County EMS said accounted for two months’ worth of fatalities, likely came from a bad batch from the same dealer. For that reason, the Texas Department of Public Safety is working to find out where the supply is coming from.

Police previously believed the overdoses to be caused by Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate similar but cheaper than heroin, which can be lethal in small amounts. The seven overdoses occurred in three major multi-patient incidents:

  • At 7th and Sabine streets, one was transported to the hospital and another person was declared dead on the scene.
  • At 5th and Trinity streets, there were eight total people involved; there were five ambulances needed and one was declared dead on the scene.
  • At 8th and Red River streets, two patients were transported to the hospital, one was in cardiac arrest but was resuscitated.

Information on the groups or the deceased has not been released, but police said some could have been homeless. ATCEMS said they believe the instances could have been linked due to the Fentanyl side effects seen, but are not directly connected.

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