New Dangerous Drug Causes Overdose Deaths in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is alerting residents about the emergence of medetomidine in the illicit drug supply, contributing to overdose deaths. Medetomidine, a veterinary tranquilizer, poses significant health risks including slowed heart rate, low blood pressure, and central nervous system depression. Since March, three overdose deaths in Ingham, Berrien, and Wayne counties have been linked to medetomidine, according to the Swift Toxicology of Opioid Related Mortalities (STORM) project at Western Michigan University.

MDHHS highlights the following concerns about medetomidine:

  • It causes severe central nervous system depression and can be fatal.
  • It is not reversible by naloxone or Narcan, unlike opioids.
  • There are no testing strips available yet to detect it.

“Medetomidine is more potent than xylazine. We want Michigan residents to be aware of this new and dangerous drug,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive. MDHHS urges local health organizations to raise awareness and promote harm reduction practices. This includes carrying naloxone, not using drugs alone, and monitoring breathing in case of respiratory depression. Free naloxone and testing strips can be requested from MDHHS.

For more information, read full press release here.

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