New York state will provide free xylazine test strips in order to combat the spread of the potentially lethal sedative that has alarmed public health officials.
Gov. Kathy Hochul's office announced Thursday the test strips will be made available through the Office of Addiction Services and Support and the Office of Mental Health as well as directly to the public.
"Xylazine is a dangerous drug that can cause serious health complications, including overdose deaths, and New York State continues to take aggressive measures to address this growing threat," Hochul said. "These new efforts will save lives and bring much needed resources to communities that continue to experience the ongoing impact of this crisis."
An ordering system will enable providers and state residents to order test strips through work with NY MATTERS. The test strips are meant to detect the presence of xylazine in other substances like cocaine or heroin.
State lawmakers, meanwhile, have called for the passage of a bill that would enable pharmacists to dispense the test strips as well. New York, like much of the rest of the country, has seen a steep rise in overdose deaths in recent years.
"The presence of xylazine is a growing concern and action needs to be taken to address this issue," Office of Addiction Services and Supports Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said. "We are working to get important harm reduction tools into the hands of providers and individuals impacted by addiction, which strengthens our efforts to keep New Yorkers safe."