Beshear bans sale of products with tianeptine, unapproved drug with opioid-like effects that has caused overdoses and deaths

Gov. Andy Beshear has signed an emergency regulation that bans the sale of products containing tianeptine, an unregulated drug known as “gas station heroin” that produces opioid-like effects, his office announced. The order classifies tianeptine as a Schedule I controlled substance, with no known medical use.

Tianeptine, which is available online and at retail locations, sometimes in dietary supplements, has been linked to serious harm, overdoses and death, according to the Food and Drug Administration. It is not approved in the U.S. In nations where it is approved, it is marketed as Coaxil or Stablon. In the U.S., it is known as ZaZa, Tianna, TD Red and Pegasus.

“Side effects from abusing or misusing tianeptine by itself or with other drugs, like antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, include agitation, drowsiness, confusion, sweating, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, slowed or stopped breathing, coma and death,” Beshear’s office said in a news release.

The FDA says eports of bad reactions to tianeptine, and unwanted effects from it, are increasing. “Some companies are illegally marketing and selling products containing tianeptine to consumers,” FDA says. “They are also making dangerous and unproven claims that tianeptine can improve brain function and treat anxiety, depression, pain, opioid use disorder, and other conditions.” The agency also says people with a history of opioid-use disorder or dependence may be at greater risk of abusing tianeptine.

Beshear said in the release, “Until now, someone looking for a heroin-like high could walk into certain places or buy this harmful product online. We’re committed to protecting Kentuckians from this kind of harm, and if someone is struggling with abuse, we’re here to help.”

Resources for addiction and recovery include FindHelpNowKY, the Kentucky Help Call Center (833-8KY-HELP) and the Kentucky Opioid Response Effort, or KORE.

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