The Alabama Department of Public Health has banned over-the-counter sales of the supplement tianeptine in Alabama amid growing concerns about its addictiveness and harmful impact on citizens.
Tianeptine was often at gas stations under brand names like “ZaZa,” “Pegasus” and “Tianaa.” Morgan County Judge Charles Elliott, whose profile includes the local drug court, has described tianeptine as “basically over-the-counter heroin.”
Alabama is the second state to ban tianeptine after Michigan took similar action in 2018.
The Alabama Department of Public Health Board of Directors first announced tianeptine’s classification in September, with the ban undergoing a review process before being implemented on Monday.
“It is highly addictive, highly dangerous, it is deadly and it is currently available to anyone in our community,” Elliott said at a Decatur City Council meeting earlier in March, according to the Decatur Daily.
A report from four Alabama physicians published online by the American College of Emergency Physicians details the serious ill-effects that overexposure to tianeptine can produce and points out that emergency calls regarding the substance have spiked since 2014.
The report also establishes that tianeptine is commonly called “gas station dope” by its users.
Nancy Bishop, the official at ADPH who oversees pharmacies, told the Daily, “The data and clinical nature of tianeptine show that it can be a harmful substance. By making it a Schedule II substance, it will be available with appropriate dosing by prescription if/when it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.”