AUSTIN (KXAN) – A bill seeking to enhance the understanding of a dangerous and increasingly prevalent street drug, xylazine, is one step closer to passing after receiving approval from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Monday.

Xylazine, commonly referred to as tranq, is a non-opiate sedative authorized in the U.S. only for veterinary use. It has had the most severe impact in the Northeast but was first detected in a Texas illicit fentanyl batch in March. 

Little medical research has been conducted on the effects of xylazine on the human body, but anecdotal reports describe it producing opioid-like highs. People who inject xylazine frequently are at risk of developing severe, necrotic skin alterations that can result in amputations, per the FDA.

U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced in April the Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act to develop new tests for detection and establish better resources for the people working with the affected communities. 

In an interview last month, Cruz told KXAN that his hope with this bill is that medical professionals can get a better understanding of xylazine while it is not rampant, so it does not become as prevalent as fentanyl in the U.S. and Texas. 

“The drug epidemic continues to ravage communities in Texas and across the country, and to protect our citizens, we need to work swiftly to prevent deadly new drugs like tranq and the truly horrifying side effects that come with it. This bill would improve our knowledge of these devastating drugs so that law enforcement and others on the front line of this battle have better information about when tranq shows up in a community,” Cruz said in a press release. 

“The drug epidemic is not just a Texas problem – it’s a national problem. As new drugs find their way onto the street, law enforcement must have the tools at their disposal to address the latest crisis. Senator Ted Cruz’s TRANQ Act would provide us with the resources we need to combat the distribution of tranq, and save the lives of vulnerable Texans,” the Texas Municipal Police Association said in a release.