Tranq Dope: Gov. Shapiro cracks down on popular street drug

Governor Josh Shapiro came to the offices of a Kensington community group Tuesday to warn of the dangers of a street drug popular in Philadelphia and to announce that he will soon classify the drug as a schedule 3 narcotic.

Xylazine, also referred to as "tranq," is an animal sedative commonly used for livestock. It has sparked serious health concerns as users have reportedly seen their own skin rot as a side effect. Now, city officials are stepping in to make it harder for people to get their hands on. 

"This drug is a serious threat even more so because a lot of times when people take it, they don’t even realize it’s mixed with the fentanyl they’re purchasing, said Shapiro during Tuesday's meeting.

FOX 29's Jeff Cole spoke to Vanessa, a 32-year-old who's drug-addicted and living on the streets of Kensington. She says the drug is easy to find and cheap, which is actually part of the concern for city and law enforcement officials. 


Law enforcement says tranq has taken hold in the supply of illegal drugs flowing the streets of Kensington and elsewhere. They say it's killing hundreds of people across the Commonwealth and the cheapness and accessibility of the drug makes it available to anyone who wants to buy it. 

"Scheduling these drugs allows us to put tighter controls, security and record keeping requirements in place to keep them out of communities," Shapiro said.

It will also allow police to charge for possession of tranq, which Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole says is necessary given the side effects of the drug. 

"[Tranq] leaves deep, painful wounds," said Bettigole. "Just horrific wounds, like something out of a doomsday novel. I don't know how to describe it, but awful, leading to amputations, and can lead to overwhelming infections and death." 

The Shapiro administration says Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Debra Bogen has submitted a notice of intent to temporarily add Xylazine (tranq) to the list of schedule 3 drugs under Pennsylvania's Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act. 

Officials say the notice will be published on April 22 and the Office of Attorney General will have 30 days to comment once the notice is received. Shapiro expects the drug to be newly classified by May.