FLORIDA — Florida has followed the actions of at least eight other states by outlawing tianeptine, a highly addictive substance commonly known as gas station heroin, said Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Moody said she has filed an emergency rule to make tianeptine illegal in the state. Through the emergency action, tianeptine is now on Florida’s Schedule I list of controlled substances.
According to Moody’s office, tianeptine is commonly sold as a dietary supplement under such names as Pegasus, Tianaa, or Za Za Red. Tianeptine reportedly mimics the effects of opioids and is available at gas stations, convenience stores, and online.
Tianeptine is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for any medical use and is attributed to five deaths nationwide.
“Tianeptine, also known as gas station heroin, is highly addictive and even deadly. The federal government reports deaths nationwide, and tianeptine is causing an increase in calls to Florida’s Poison Control Center,” said Moody.
“We are taking immediate action to outlaw this dangerous substance in our state. No one should buy, sell, or use products containing tianeptine.”
Tianeptine is banned in several other states, including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee, due to its highly addictive nature and severe withdrawal symptoms.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, tianeptine is abused for its euphoric properties similar to other opioids, such as heroin. Severe adverse health effects, including respiratory depression, severe sedation, and death, have occurred from misuse.
Moody’s office said Florida’s Poison Control Center received 15 exposure calls in the first half of 2023 from users aged 23 to 58. In 2022, 24 calls were reported, and 54 were reported over the last four years.
The reported users’ ages range from 18 to 66.
Calls to the center are voluntary, so the number of cases likely exceeds those reported. Nationally, approximately 607 calls were made to poison control centers from 2020 to 2022.
According to the FDA, some users may have difficulty stopping the use of tianeptine and experience withdrawal symptoms similar to opioid withdrawals. Effects include agitation, drowsiness, confusion, sweating, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, slowed or stopped breath, coma, and death.
According to Moody’s announcement, some tianeptine users are alleged to have spent almost $200 a day and $2,000 a month feeding the addiction, some buying six to nine bottles a day.