INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Health put out an alert on Monday about the emerging threat of a drug known as Bromazolam.
It’s a synthetic drug that was first developed in the 1970s for medicinal purposes but was never approved for use in the United States. It’s in the same drug class as Xanax and Valium and is known by its street names “XLI-268” and “fake Xanax.”
The drug is being sold as tablets, powers and even gummies. The Department of Health said it didn’t show up in the US until four years ago.
“It is increasing. We will continue to see an increase much like we did with xylazine, which is another synthetic opioid, and even fentanyl before that,” said Heather Rodriguez with Indiana Recovery Network.
Bromazolam is so new that officials in Indiana said they didn’t test for it until this year.
According to numbers from IDOH, the drug was found in the toxicology results of 35 overdose victims from January 2023 to June 2023. Of those patients, 17 died in April and May alone.
Mike Gannon, assistant special agent in charge of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-Indianapolis, said the drug began to emerge after a series of other similar drugs were placed on the list of Schedule 1 substances in December 2022.
“The drug dealers are always going to try to find the newest synthetic drug that they can put in or mix in to try to make money,” Gannon said.
Bromazolam is often laced with fentanyl which creates a deadly concoction, according to Gannon.
Rodriguez said the impact it’s already made is tragic.
“These are individuals who are parents, brothers, sisters, mothers, you name it,” Rodriguez said. “And they have a family and they have people that care about them.”
Gannon said his advice already remains the same: only take medicines that are prescribed to you.
“It’s one of those things you have to be wary of when you’re getting any type of drug from someone on the street,” Gannon said.
The IDOH said the best treatment for an overdose of Bromazolam is Narcan because the drug is often mixed with synthetic opiates.
You can find ways to obtain Narcan here.