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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: August 25, 2023 03:06 PM
From: Representative Carl Walker Metzgar
To: All House members
Subject: Criminalizing illicit possession of xylazine, with veterinary use exemptions
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation in response to the Department of Health’s  temporary scheduling of  xylazine as a Schedule III controlled substance in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

My legislation is modeled after a federal bill, The Combating Illicit Xylazine Act (H.R. 1839/S. 993).  My bill would criminalize illicit possession of xylazine, with an exemption for licit veterinary use, and not make it a Schedule III controlled substance due to the risk that it will cease to be available in Pennsylvania for veterinarians to access. 

Xylazine is a prescription sedative with pain-relieving and muscle-relaxing properties for veterinary use that is used across a number of animal species. It is an important drug for safely handling and treating many species—especially large animals and wildlife, but also cats, dogs, rodents, and zoo animals among others—as well as for performing diagnostic and surgical procedures. For cattle, in particular, there is no practical alternative for sedation.

There is no question that illicit xylazine in combination with illicit drugs is a serious public health concern.  However, the veterinary community has serious concerns that the scheduling of prescription xylazine as a Schedule III drug will cause the FDA-approved product to become unavailable to Pennsylvania veterinarians for it’s critical use. 

Lack of expedient access to xylazine for veterinary patients will be a detriment to animal welfare and human safety. Veterinarians and animal handlers rely on ready access to xylazine when performing elective and emergency procedures on livestock to facilitate safe handling.

I applaud the Shapiro Administration for working with the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and several other stakeholders in hearing their concerns by exempting veterinarians in their rulemaking and working with me on this draft legislation.

Please join me in sponsoring this piece of legislation.  Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as HB1661