The New Jersey Department of Health reports that in August 2023, the New Jersey Poison Center (NJPIES) identified a cluster of poisoning cases involving tianeptine, a substance with opioid-like effects that is being falsely marketed and sold across the state in gas stations and online as a dietary supplement. Common names for tianeptine include “gas station heroin,” “ZaZa Red,” or “Neptune’s Elixir” (among others).
Tianeptine use can lead to serious health complications and even death. Over the 60-day period from June 17 to August 17, NJPIES received 9 calls about patients poisoned by tianeptine, and some patients have become critically ill. Due to this cluster of cases and previous FDA warnings, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) has increased surveillance efforts around this substance and urges New Jersey residents to be cautious.
What is Tianeptine?
Tianeptine is a tricyclic antidepressant used in some Latin American, Asian, and European countries but is not FDA-approved or regulated for use in the United States. Individuals with an opioid use disorder may be more likely to use tianeptine, as it is inaccurately marketed as a safer alternative to opioids and can have opioid-like effects. The FDA has warned that manufacturers of tianeptine are making inaccurate and unproven claims that the use of tianeptine can improve brain function and treat anxiety, depression, pain, opioid use disorder, and other health ailments.
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Take care and be well,