What is tianeptine? Lawmakers sound the alarm on 'gas station heroin'


A bipartisan group of lawmakers is asking federal regulators to take action on an over-the-counter substance known as "gas station heroin."

Tianeptine is a tricyclic antidepressant used in some parts of Europe, Asia and South America, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved its use in the United States. Sold at gas stations across the country under names like "ZaZa Red" and "Neptune’s Elixir," tianeptine use can lead to serious health complications and even death, according to the New Jersey Poison Center. 

People with an opioid use disorder may be more likely to use tianeptine, the New Jersey Poison Center explains, "as it is inaccurately marketed as a safer alternative to opioids and can have  opioid-like effects," the New Jersey Poison Center explains in a bulletin on its website.