The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is issuing an urgent warning against the purchase or use of supplements containing tianeptine, a substance commonly referred to as “gas station heroin.”
The federal health agency has repeatedly issued warnings about the potential lethal interactions between the products sold under the brand name Neptune’s Fix and other medications.
The FDA, which issued a previous warning in November, has recently reported ongoing cases of individuals experiencing seizures, loss of consciousness, and fatalities following the use of Neptune’s Fix.
A recall has been issued for Neptune’s Fix Elixir, Neptune’s Fix Extra Strength Elixir, and Neptune’s Fix Tablets. The products, similar to many other items containing tianeptine, were available for purchase online and at various retail locations such as petrol stations, vape or smoke shops and other establishments.
Tianeptine is not approved in the U.S., although it has been approved in other countries for the treatment of depression and anxiety. It has been sold in the U.S. without proper authorization, with purported benefits for brain function and the treatment of anxiety, depression, pain, opioid use disorder, and other conditions.
According to a 2023 review in “Pain and Therapy,” it earned the monikers “gas station heroin” or “gas station dope” due to its widespread availability at gas stations and its ability to replicate the effects of opioids at high doses.
A 2018 study conducted by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that the symptoms of tianeptine abuse and withdrawal closely resemble opioid toxicity.
The FDA has reported a significant rise in poison control center cases related to tianeptine exposure across the country. The number of cases has surged from a total of 11 between 2000 and 2013 to a staggering 151 cases in 2020 alone.