“Gas Station Heroin”: Tianeptine Could Be Dangerous

March 19, 2024

By Jill K. Sanders, Esq.

Tianeptine was discovered in the 1960s, and since then it has been used in Europe to treat depression. However, in the US it is not approved to treat any condition. Yet it is available for purchase in the US at smoke shops, gas stations, and online. Recently, the Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) warned against purchasing any product or “dietary supplement” containing the drug.


What is Tianeptine?

Tianeptine is in a class of drugs called atypical tricyclic antidepressants. In other countries, this type of drug is used for treating major depressive disorder. Additionally, the drug has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, so some may use it to treat anxiety. Some have also used it for asthma and irritable bowel syndrome. In some studies, the drug has been found to have anti-convulsant effects and may treat pain.

However, it is not approved for use in the US, and several states have banned the drug. In New York, legislators have proposed banning the drug. For products in the US, they may be marketed as “dietary supplements” which claim to improve brain function. The products may claim to treat conditions such as pain, depression, anxiety, or opioid use disorder.


How Tianeptine Products Can be Dangerous

Sometimes, the products for sale as “dietary supplements” are not as safe as one may think they are. For example, the products may contain unknown ingredients, be contaminated, or not even contain the active ingredient. These products may be purchased online or at smoke shops, gas stations, or other stores. In our blog on kratom, an herbal substance that is also not regulated in the US, we discussed ways consume a product as safely as possible.

When it comes to tianeptine, there are some common side effects. This may include drowsiness, confusion, agitation, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, confusion, and nausea or vomiting. In more serious cases, consuming the drug can lead to slowed or stopped breathing, which can result in coma and/or death.

Additionally, some have given it the nickname “gas station heroin.” The drug is said to have euphoric properties, similar to opioids, when abused or used recreationally. Moreover, there is a potential for addiction.


Recent FDA Warning on Tianeptine Products

In February 2024, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) posted a warning about purchasing any products under the name “Neptune’s Fix,” which contain tianeptine as a primary ingredient. According to the FDA, the products were linked to severe adverse event reports including seizures, loss of consciousness, and death.

While the makers of “Neptune’s Fix” voluntarily recalled the products linked to the serious side effects, this doesn’t mean other products containing tianeptine aren’t widely available. In other stores and online, there are still several other products available.




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