PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WHTM) — Governor Josh Shapiro has announced new measures to address the growing issue of xylazine, also known as “tranq,” which he says is leading to a growing number of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania

Xylazine is traditionally a drug used to tranquilize farm animals, but does not have legitimate human use. However, more and more humans are using it and dying from it.

Governor Shapiro said there’s been a more than 600% increase in fatalities in the past few years linked to Xylazene. The Governor called for Xylazene to be changed to a schedule three narcotic, which will increase safeguards by manufacturers and enhance prosecution of pushers of the drug.

“There are tighter requirements around the delivery of scheduled drugs to guarantee that the person who ordered it is actually the one who signed for it and scheduled drugs must be stored in locked facilities. It also gives law enforcement the ability to charge and have another tool at their disposal. And it gives prosecutors, if they choose to do so, the opportunity to prosecute people for having this in their possession,” Governor Shapiro said.

According to the Governor’s office, the drug contributed to 90 overdose deaths in 2017, but in 2021, it contributed to 575 overdose deaths across 30 counties. In 2021, the City of Philadelphia reported that 90% of street opioid samples contained xylazine.

Shapiro also noted that veterinarians with a legitimate need for Xylazine will not be hindered in their ability to get the drug for legitimate purposes.

The governor says while his administration will try to crack down on those pushing Xylazine, it is more compassionate to those who are using and stuck in the grips of addiction.

Those needing assistance with substance abuse can call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).