"Xylazine has been sort of associated with these skin lesions," said Dr. Varun Vohra, Director of Toxicology at the Michigan Poison & Drug Information Center.
The flesh eating drug, not approved for use in humans, was found present in more than 200 post-mortem studies conducted by Vohra and his team. Vohra believes the numbers will rise.
"That's not inclusive of all the medical examiner data across the state, still that's an under-estimation is still a significant amount," Vohra added.
According to the CDC, the number of overdose deaths surpassed 107,000 in 2021. Two-thirds of those deaths involved the synthetic opioid known as fentanyl.
The drug epidemic is hitting closer to home as well.
On Sunday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard posted to Facebook discussing three separate overdose situations the county was dealing with. The post ended with Sheriff Bouchard giving out a mental health hotline number.
"In law enforcement, we try to be preventative, we try to get in front of a problem," Sheriff Bouchard said.
Sheriff Bouchard pointed out that all the data and intel he has received indicated that drugs like xylazine, or Tranq, as well as the new candy-colored fentanyl and opioids in general, are coming from the southern border of the United States and said that's where more preventative measures must take place.
"People are making an incredible amount of money knowing they are killing people and don't care," Sheriff Bouchard added.
As for Vohra, he said he hopes the findings of his research involving xylazine can create some positive changes in the medical community to help identify what doctors may be dealing with regarding overdosed patients.
"The hopes are with this study is to inform public health entities, commissions, et cetera, and advocate for more routine ability to test in real-time," Vohra explained.
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