Ohio paramedics warn about return of ‘zombie’ drug now being mixed with fentanyl

Flakka is a man-made crystal drug similar to bath salts.
Xylazine, known as Flakka or the zombie drug.
Xylazine, known as Flakka or the zombie drug.(Drug Enforcement Agency)
Updated: May. 8, 2019 at 4:35 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The “zombie” drug is back in some Ohio neighborhoods. But this time, it’s being mixed with opioids.

The state just sent out a warning for EMS providers to be on the lookout for the powerful drug Flakka.

It’s called the zombie drug for a reason.

People seem to be in a trance when they’re high on Flakka, swinging their body and arms around erratically, almost as if they’re dancing.

Flakka is a man-made crystal drug similar to bath salts, and now officials say it’s being mixed with opioids like fentanyl.

Ohio Emergency Medical Services said that mixture has led to the overdose deaths of three Ohioans so far this year.

Ohio EMS sent out a letter to EMS agencies statewide, warning them the drug can be easily accessible.

The DEA does not require a license for it and it's cheap.

Xylazine is the drug’s clinical name. It is used by veterinarians treating animals. But drug users find ways to steal it or buy it online.

Medway Drug Enforcement Agency found two ounces of flakka in 2017.
Medway Drug Enforcement Agency found two ounces of flakka in 2017.(Medway Drug Enforcement Agency)

In January 2017, Medway Drug Enforcement Agency in Wooster had a brush with Flakka.

They worked with federal agents, to intercept a package coming in from Spain. They found two ounces of the synthetic drug, on its way to a local house.

Medway Drug Enforcement Agency hasn’t seen any cases since then.

Firehouse Magazine warns first responders it may take four or more police officers and firefighters and the help of even more EMS crews to restrain a patient high on Flakka.

Ohio EMS tells agencies “personal protective equipment should be donned for each and every patient encounter.”

It says gloves and eye protection should be good enough to protect first responders from Flakka.

19 News checked in with Cleveland EMS and they say they haven’t seen any cases of Flakka yet.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office says they have not seen any deadly cases.

A spokesperson says it comes in waves and they only see it a couple of times a week, which is a small number compared to the hundreds of specimens their lab processes a month.

The last spike they saw in Flakka was one or two months ago and they say they’re keeping an eye on it.

There isn’t much research on the effects of Flakka combined with opioids.

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