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More than 16 drug overdoses reported within 24 hours in Onondaga County

Multiple clear packages of confiscated evidence.
Scott Willis
Multiple packages of confiscated evidence.

The Onondaga County Health Department said more than 16 people have overdosed on opioids in the span of 24 hours Thursday, according to their overdose tracking system.

The health department attributes the spike to drugs laced with Xylazine, a non-opioid sedative usually used on horses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes Xylazine as a "non-opioid" animal tranquilizer that has not been approved for human consumption but is often added to opioids like fentanyl.

According to the health department, a person who overdoses on Xylazine may not respond to the overdose reversal drug Narcan. Xylazine is not a controlled substance, meaning it can be bought as a prescription from a veterinarian.

The drug was recently identified in the Journal of Forensic Science International as an emerging adulterant in abused drugs.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at