Kentucky's governor took emergency action Thursday to halt the sale of a drug commonly known as "gas station heroin" that he warned poses a threat in a state battling addiction and overdose problems.
Gov. Andy Beshear said the emergency regulation he signed applies to products containing tianeptine, an unregulated drug that he said produces opioid-like effects.
"This action stops the sale of this unregulated drug in Kentucky," Beshear said.
Tianeptine — available online and at convenience stores and gas stations — has no known medical use and poses a "significant potential for abuse," the governor said. It's been linked to serious harm, overdoses and death, Beshear said, citing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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In the U.S., tianeptine is known as ZaZa, Tianna, TD Red and Pegasus, his office said in a news release.
"Today, Kentucky has become a safer place," Beshear said. "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 type of harm."
Side effects from abusing or misusing tianeptine by itself or with other drugs include agitation, drowsiness, confusion, sweating, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, slowed or stopped breathing, coma and death, the news release said.
"Cases described in medical journals, calls to poison control centers and reports to the FDA suggest this drug has a significant potential for abuse," Beshear said.
People with a history of opioid-use disorder or dependence may be at particular risk, the governor said, citing the FDA.