Eight states now ban “gas station heroin”

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) has signed an emergency regulation to ban the sale of products containing tianeptine, an opioid-like drug commonly known as “gas station heroin.” The move comes after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that the drug has been linked to serious harm, overdoses, and death.

Tianeptine is not approved by the FDA for medical use, but it is still available for purchase online and at some gas stations. It is also known by several street names, including ZaZa, Tianna, TD Red, and Pegasus.

The FDA has reported a significant increase in poison control center cases involving tianeptine exposure nationwide. There were only 11 cases between 2000 and 2013, but that number rose to 151 cases in 2020 alone. Side effects of the drug include agitation, drowsiness, confusion, sweating, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, slowed or stopped breathing, coma, and death. The CDC has also warned that tianeptine abuse and withdrawal can mimic opioid toxicity and withdrawal.

Governor Beshear said in a news release, “Today, Kentucky became a safer place. Until now, someone looking for a heroin-like high could walk into certain places or buy this harmful product online. We’re committed to protecting Kentuckians from this kind of harm, and if someone is struggling with abuse, we’re here to help.”

Kentucky joins seven other states, including Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee, and Ohio, in banning the sale of tianeptine products.