FDA Warns About a Dietary Supplement Known as “Gas Station Heroin” Being Sold Across the United States

(NationalUSNews.com) — Neptune’s Fix is one of many products commonly sold in gas stations and smoke shops as a dietary supplement that actually contains a foreign-made drug not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The particular drug in question for these products and others like them is tianeptine, which is used in over 60 countries for anxiety and depression. As it is not approved for use in the U.S., it is not regulated like a drug, instead falling under the much looser supplement laws.

The FDA released a warning in November regarding Neptune’s Fix and other products containing tianeptine due to adverse effects that have been noted for some time by medical professionals. Tianeptine can interact poorly with other medications, both prescription and recreational. Sometimes called gas station heroin, it can be extremely addictive at higher dosages or with habitual use. Physical symptoms of a poor reaction include seizures, rapid heartbeat, nausea, confusion, loss of consciousness, and slowed breathing.

There have also been deaths associated with the use of tianeptine, as in the case of 19-year-old Alabama resident Johnathon Morrison. He was seemingly unaware of the dangers of the tablets he was taking to help with his migraines. The gas station employee who sold him Tianaa, which is another common supplement containing tianeptine, told him it was an all-natural but more powerful pain reliever like Tylenol. Fans of the supplements often mention using it to cope with chronic pain. In Morrison’s case, he was also taking prescription drugs, including an anti-seizure medication, which has been noted to interact badly with tianeptine.

After Morrison’s death from asphyxia, his mother helped get products containing tianeptine banned in their home state. Alabama is one of an increasing number of states banning the products, including Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Minnesota, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Mississippi. Some worry the bans will do more harm than good, concerned that habitual users will turn to even more dangerous street drugs like fentanyl or crack cocaine. It should be noted that people trying to quit tianeptine may experience physical withdrawal symptoms. The FDA is urging consumers not to buy or use these products, although whether they will be made illegal nationwide remains to be seen.

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