Identification of the veterinary sedative medetomidine in combination with opioids and xylazine in Maryland

J Forensic Sci. 2023 Sep;68(5):1708-1712. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.15242. Epub 2023 Mar 26.


Public health, public safety, and forensic science personnel continue to face the emergence of new compounds into the drug market. While focus is often put on the detection of new analogs of known illicit drugs, monitoring the changes in cutting agents and other compounds can be equally as important. Over the last year, near real-time monitoring of the drug supply in Maryland has been completed through a public health-public safety partnership whereby residue from suspected drug packaging or used paraphernalia is collected and analyzed. Through this project, we have recently detected the presence of the veterinary sedative medetomidine in a small number of samples. The presence of medetomidine has been identified in both public health and law enforcement samples and in the presence of fentanyl and xylazine-another veterinary sedative that has been widely observed over the last year. While the rate at which medetomidine has been detected remains low, it is concerning and worthy of continued monitoring.

Keywords: DART-MS; drug analysis; medetomidine; new substance; public health; xylazine.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Heart Rate
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives*
  • Imidazoles
  • Maryland
  • Medetomidine* / pharmacology
  • Xylazine


  • Medetomidine
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Xylazine
  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Imidazoles