This March 10 photo shows fentanyl pills seized by police. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

This March 10 photo shows fentanyl pills seized by police. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

State health alert issued for fentanyl mixture

Xylazine is not approved for human use and naloxone will not be able to reverse its effect

KENAI — A state health alert was issued last week warning of an emerging drug threat in the form of fentanyl mixed with non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer xylazine.

The state announcement came following a national alert by the Biden administration days prior.

During a Public Health ECHO held Wednesday, Dr. Coleman Cutchins said that xylazine is not approved for human use, and that naloxone will not be able to reverse its effect.

Information shared by Cutchins during the ECHO said the tranquilizer can cause drowsiness, lethargy and death, as well as severe skin wounds in the form of patches of dead or rotting tissue.

A release from the state Department of Health about the alert says that xylazine was first identified on the East Coast, but has spread nationwide. Data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shows that xylazine identifications have increased by between 100-200% between 2020-2021, and that in that time 23% of powder and 7% of pills seized contained the compound.

The release does not include any information about xylazine identification in Alaska.

“People who use substances may not be aware that they have been exposed to xylazine,” the release says.

If someone is unresponsive after taking non-prescription drugs, Cutchins said to call 911, administer naloxone and provide CPR if they aren’t breathing.

The release says that although xylazine isn’t an opioid, it is often mixed with opioids, so naloxone should still be administered.

For more information about opioids in Alaska, visit

Reach reporter Jake Dye at

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Juneau School District administrators and board members review the updated budget for the current fiscal year during a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The Juneau School District had a $9.5M projected deficit this year. It’s now a $633,185 surplus. How is that possible?

Resignation of 34 employees since January, health insurance savings among reasons, officials say.

Rep. Sara Hannan (right) offers an overview of this year’s legislative session to date as Rep. Andi Story and Sen. Jesse Kiehl listen during a town hall by Juneau’s delegation on Thursday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Multitude of education issues, budget, PFD among top areas of focus at legislative town hall

Juneau’s three Democratic lawmakers reassert support of more school funding, ensuring LGBTQ+ rights.

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, mayor of the Inupiaq village of Nuiqsut, at the area where a road to the Willow project will be built in the North Slope of Alaska, March 23, 2023. The Interior Department said it will not permit construction of a 211-mile road through the park, which a mining company wanted for access to copper deposits. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Biden shields millions of acres of Alaskan wilderness from drilling and mining

The Biden administration expanded federal protections across millions of acres of Alaskan… Continue reading

Allison Gornik plays the lead role of Alice during a rehearsal Saturday of Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland,” which will be staged at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé for three days starting Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
An ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that requires quick thinking on and off your feet

Ballet that Juneau Dance Theatre calls its most elaborate production ever opens Friday at JDHS.

Caribou cross through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in their 2012 spring migration. A 211-mile industrial road that the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority wants to build would pass through Gates of the Arctic and other areas used by the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, one of the largest in North America. Supporters, including many Alaska political leaders, say the road would provide important economic benefits. Opponents say it would have unacceptable effects on the caribou. (Photo by Zak Richter/National Park Service)
Alaska’s U.S. senators say pending decisions on Ambler road and NPR-A are illegal

Expected decisions by Biden administration oppose mining road, support more North Slope protections.

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 13. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House members propose constitutional amendment to allow public money for private schools

After a court ruling that overturned a key part of Alaska’s education… Continue reading

Danielle Brubaker shops for homeschool materials at the IDEA Homeschool Curriculum Fair in Anchorage on Thursday. A court ruling struck down the part of Alaska law that allows correspondence school families to receive money for such purchases. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers to wait on Alaska Supreme Court as families reel in wake of correspondence ruling

Cash allotments are ‘make or break’ for some families, others plan to limit spending.

Most Read