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Doctors warn of rising number of people using illegal opioid


SALT LAKE CITY — Doctors all over the country are being warned about the rising popularity of an opioid that’s not even supposed to be available in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control are seeing a rising number of calls about this drug to poison control officials over the past few years.

The drug tianeptine is not like other opioids that are used to control pain.  Utah Poison Control Center Medical Director Mike Moss says it’s widely used in Europe and Asia to treat depression and anxiety.

“This is a pretty unique medication.  I’m not familiar with anything that works in this same fashion,” Moss says.

A new report from the CDC says, “People taking it can become addicted and suffer from withdrawal when they stop.  Poison control received 29 calls associated with tianeptine withdrawal, the researchers found.”

It adds, “In light of the ongoing U.S. opioid epidemic, any emerging trends in drugs with opioid-like effects raise concerns about potential abuse and public health safety.”

In other countries, tianeptine is marketed as Coaxil or Stablon. However, case studies found recreational abuse of tianeptine could result in adverse effects and even death.

“It’s not a legal drug in the United States, at this point.  It’s just never had approval for use in the United States,” Moss says.

However, it’s apparently easy to get online.

“It has come into the awareness of the internet community in the last few years,” he adds.

Moss says this particular drug has not become a large problem in Utah, but, with more people trying to find new forms of opioids, it has the potential to become a real risk.

He says, “The report that came out says there were about 200 calls to the national poison control system over the last couple of years.  We’ve had a few in Utah.”