New substance found in counterfeit Xanax in Canada

Law enforcement is warning of a potent new substance appearing in counterfeit versions of the sedative and anti-anxiety medicine Xanax, which is commonly used as a recreational drug.

Police and public health officials in the Algoma district of Ontario say they have encountered street drugs made to resemble Xanax – which if genuine contains the benzodiazepine alprazolam – that instead contain adinazolam.

Adinazolam was marked in some countries under the Deracyn name, including Italy, but has never been approved in Canada or the US.

It is much more potent than alprazolam, and is one of number of “novel” benzodiazepines emerging as drugs of abuse around the world, along with flualprazolam, norfludiazepam, flunitrazepam and others.

 “Adinazolam is not a legally prescribed benzodiazepine and very little is known about its safety,” commented Dr Jennifer Loo, associate medical officer of Health at Algoma Public Health. 

“Benzodiazepine use, whether intentional or unintentional, can be problematic and can lead to addiction,” she added.

Adinazolam overdose can lead to muscle weakness, diminished reflexes, confusion, and coma. As with any counterfeit medicine, the dose of the drug in each tablet may be highly variable and that makes it hard to avoid taking too much in error.

In Scotland, unlicensed benzodiazepines were involved in 85 per cent of 792 deaths in 2018 where this type of drug was implicated.

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