NZ: Deadly drug flualprazolam found in fake Xanax tablets

National Health News –

The deadly drug flualprazolam has been found for the first time in New Zealand in fake Xanax tablets.

More than 40 deaths in the US and 12 in the UK have been linked to the drug.

Now it has shown up in New Zealand in yellow counterfeit Xanax tablets, sold under the slang name “bars” or “school buses” for between $25 and $50.

A sample was handed to drug-testing service KnowYourStuff, prompting a warning from High Alert.

High Alert describes flualprazolam as a “dangerous and potent novel benzodiazepine”.

The effects can include sedation and sleepiness, feelings of relaxation, slurred speech and loss of consciousness.

Flualprazolam is also a strong central nervous system (CNS) depressant. When combined with other CNS depressants, such as alcohol and opioids, it can be fatal even at low doses.

Fake benzodiazepines – or benzos – are a relatively new trend in New Zealand but have been growing internationally.

Alerts have been issued about them in the UK, with the British government making three new benzos, including flualprazolam, class C drugs.

The illegally produced pills often have unpredictable dosages, increasing the risk of unintended overdose, High Alert warned.

It strongly urged people not to take rectangle shaped/2 mg ‘Xanax’ tablets in New Zealand.

Any pills available in this form are likely to be counterfeit as they are not approved or legitimately available like this, it said.

The pills have R039 printed on one side and have three line breaks delineating four sections.

Fake Xanax pills have also turned up in Wellington possibly containing the benzodiazepine etizolam.

Etizolam was the most common benzodiazepine detected in the US between April and June of this year.

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