FVMA Addresses the Xylazine Crisis

Richard Williams, DVM | Co-chair of the FVMA Legislative Advocacy Committee and AVMA Delegate | Published: Issue 1, 2024


Editor's Pick

Xylazine (Rompum) is an essential animal sedative for equine and cattle. Unfortunately, the legitimate use and access to xylazine by veterinarians is being threatened. In the past few years, drug cartels have started mixing xylazine with fentanyl and other illicit opioids to extend the high from these drugs, causing it to be classified last year as an “emerging public health threat” at the federal level.

In response to this, the FDA has begun the process of classifying xylazine on the national level as a controlled substance, probably at level II. This would usually not be a major problem, but manufacturers would face considerably higher regulatory and facility investment costs to continue manufacturing it as a controlled substance. Current manufacturers have said that with xylazine being a low-volume, low-margin generic animal drug, they will probably discontinue production if this occurs.

The AVMA has been working diligently on this issue in Washington, and recently, the U.S. House passed a bill that classifies xylazine as a Schedule II drug but exempts the FDA-approved veterinary product and its use from scheduling. This bill is now in the U.S. Senate.

Florida is in a unique spot in this entire process as being the only state to have xylazine classified as a controlled substance prior to the emerging threat to public health. In 2016, xylazine was classified as a Class I narcotic in Florida.

This legislative session, the FVMA introduced Florida House bill HB 743 and Senate bill SB 700. These identical bills will leave xylazine classified as a Class I drug but allow the exemption of the FDA-approved product for veterinary use as the federal bill does. This would allow for the continued use by veterinarians and not cause any supply disruptions. The Florida senate bill passed its committee hearing on January 16, 2024, and we are hopeful the House will take up the bill shortly. We thank Senator Greuters and Representative Basabe for sponsoring these bills.

Other priority legislation that you should be aware of this year are telemedicine bills HB 849 and SB 1040. These bills would allow telemedicine to be practiced as it is in human medicine by veterinarians located anywhere in the country who hold a Florida license. With just a phone call, these veterinarians could make a diagnosis and prescribe any medications — even controlled substances — with no examination of the animal, including horses, being required. The FVMA completely opposes this language and is working hard to stop it, as we have for the past five years.

The FVMA and FAEP ask that all veterinarians impacted by these bills reach out to their legislators and request they support HB 743 and SB 700 — the xylazine bills — and oppose HB 849 and SB 1040 — the telemedicine bills. This can be done online or with a simple phone call. We also ask you contribute to the FVMA PAC so we can continue to protect veterinary medicine in Florida.

Your involvement is crucial! Visit fvma.org/advocacy to learn more about our legislative efforts and how you can join us in making an impact. Whether it’s through donations to the PAC or by reaching out to your legislators, every action you take helps shape a better future for veterinary professionals and the animals in our care.

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