Xylazine classified as a Schedule III controlled substance

In March, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order directing the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy to immediately classify xylazine as a Schedule III controlled substance. The move makes Ohio one of the first states in the nation to schedule xylazine as a controlled substance drug.

Xylazine is a widely used sedative in veterinary medicine, particularly with cattle. It has been increasingly discovered in combination with illicit drug use in Ohio. Prior to the governor’s executive order, Ohio Farm Bureau, along with the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association and Ohio Dairy Producers Association worked with the DeWine administration on the situation. In addition, Farm Bureau has also been working with the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association and American Veterinary Medical Association to help the Food and Drug Administration and Congress find pathways to reduce the illicit use of xylazine while also ensuring accessibility in veterinary medicine.

With the new order, veterinary practices must obtain an Ohio Board of Pharmacy Category 3 Terminal Distributor of Dangerous Drugs license by June 30, 2023. 

The Ohio Department of Agriculture put together a short Q and A to help understand what happens next.

Q. What is xylazine and why is it now a controlled substance drug?

A. Xylazine is a central nervous system depressant used in veterinary medicine as a sedative, anesthetic, and muscle relaxant. The substance, which is not approved for human consumption, has increasingly been found in the illicit drug supply in Ohio, frequently mixed with heroin, fentanyl, or new synthetic opioids (NSOs) such as nitazene.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, overdose deaths involving xylazine have increased each year in Ohio since 2019, with 15 overdose deaths in 2019, 45 in 2020, and 75 in 2021. Although 2022 mortality data is not yet complete, the Ohio Department of Health recorded 113 xylazine-involved overdose deaths as of March 14, 2022. Of these 248 unintentional drug overdose deaths, 99.2% also involved fentanyl.

Q. I am a veterinarian in Ohio. Do I need to register with the DEA to maintain a xylazine supply?

A. No, the scheduling of xylazine does not require veterinarians to obtain a federal controlled substance registration from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. 

Veterinary practices may still administer xylazine to animals but must obtain a Category 3 Terminal Distributor of Dangerous Drugs license from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy by June 30, 2023, to be permitted to order xylazine from a licensed wholesaler.

Q. Are veterinarians able to personally furnish xylazine to clients that those clients can give to animals?

A. Yes, veterinarians may personally furnish (a legal term for prescriber dispensing) a supply of xylazine to clients to give to animals. To personally furnish xylazine, a veterinarian must affix a label to the drug that contains all of the following:

  • The name and address of the veterinarian
  • The name of the patient for whom the drug is intended, which shall include the name of the owner and identification of the animal or animals
  • Name and strength of the dangerous drug
  • Directions for use
  • Date furnished

For more information regarding the emergency scheduling of xylazine by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy visit www.pharmacy.ohio.gov/xylazine.

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