July 25, 2023
The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee passed the SUPPORT Act, a legislative package aimed to address the growing threat of the opioid crisis. It includes key components of the American Veterinary Medical Association-endorsed Combating Illicit Xylazine Act.
After sustained advocacy efforts from the AVMA, the language within the SUPPORT, or Sending Unconditional Payments to People Overcoming Resistances to Triumph Act of 2021, would schedule xylazine as a Schedule III (human) drug while exempting from scheduling the FDA-approved animal drug, which means that veterinarians will be able to use it as they always have under federal law.
Illicit xylazine has now been found across the country mixed with fentanyl and other narcotics. This potent drug combination poses grave health and safety risks to human users. In veterinary medicine, xylazine is an important prescription sedative used to facilitate the safe handling and treatment of many species and is particularly important for use in cattle, horses, wildlife and research species.
In both the U.S. House and Senate, the AVMA helped develop, introduce and build support for the bipartisan Combating Illicit Xylazine Act. In this bill, anyone involved with the manufacturing, distribution, dispensing or possession of xylazine with the intent to traffic for human use would be subject to Schedule III penalties under the federal Controlled Substances Act. At the same time, the legitimate veterinary uses would remain under their current prescription status.
AVMA continues to back SUPPORT Act
The AVMA remains supportive of the approach taken in both the SUPPORT Act and the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act, as they both equip the Drug Enforcement Administration with resources to address illicit xylazine while maintaining veterinary access to the animal drug at its current prescription status under the Food and Drug Administration.
“The House Energy and Commerce Committee advancing key components of the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act represents months of collaborative work between the AVMA, congressional offices, federal agencies and other stakeholders,” said Dr. Rena Carlson, AVMA president. “The AVMA appreciates the dedication lawmakers have demonstrated to address the public health crisis of illicit xylazine, while at the same time understanding how essential the animal sedative is to veterinary medicine. On behalf of the veterinary community, we are incredibly appreciative of the strong leadership demonstrated by U.S. Reps. August Pfluger, R-Texas; Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif.; Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla.; and Ken Buck, R-Colo.; and U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa: the steadfast congressional champions of this legislation that protects public health and animal welfare. Thank you to Reps. Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, D-Wash.; and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, D-N.J., for their bipartisan support in recognizing the need to advance this legislation as part of the committee’s public health initiatives. This policy strikes a well-balanced approach, and the AVMA will continue its efforts in both chambers to ensure this policy is signed into law.”
The AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, speaking for more than 100,000 member veterinarians who care passionately about protecting animal health, animal welfare and human health. Informed by its members’ unique scientific training and knowledge, the AVMA advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and support the crucial work of veterinarians.
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