A supplement dubbed “gas station heroin” has been linked to severe illnesses and was recalled because it contains an antidepressant not approved for medical use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
On Jan. 28, Neptune Resources issued a voluntary recall of all lots of Neptune’s Fix Elixir, Neptune’s Fix Extra Strength Elixir and Neptune’s Fix Tablets due to the presence of tianeptine. The recall comes weeks after lawmakers urged the FDA to review tianeptine.
In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published Feb. 1, tianeptine was linked to a “cluster of severe illness.” According to the report, 20 cases of tianeptine ingestion were associated with “severe clinical effects” reported from June to November 2023.
Of the 20 encounters, the CDC reported that 13 of the 17 unique patients were admitted into the intensive care unit, and seven of the 17 patients underwent an endotracheal intubation. No deaths have been reported.
Although tianeptine has not been approved by the FDA for use in the U.S., it is available for purchase in elixir formulations online or at gas stations, and has been informally referred to as “gas station heroin.”
The FDA previously said the supplement has been reported as addictive and that Neptune’s Fix, a product containing the supplement, led to multiple hospitalizations.
What is tianeptine?
Tianeptine is an antidepressant supplement used in Europe to treat people who respond poorly to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, which are the most commonly prescribed medications for depression. SSRIs include brands like Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa and Lexapro.
It is not available for medical use in the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the U.K., but it can be found in gas stations, corner stores and other convenience stores labeled as a dietary supplement.
In the U.S., several states have banned tianeptine: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee.
How to return recalled Neptune Resources products
In the recall notice, Neptune Resources said it is notifying its distributors and customers in a mailed recall letter and is arranging for the return of all recalled products. Anyone who has the recalled product should stop using it and either destroy it or return it to where it was purchased immediately.
Anyone with questions regarding the recall can contact Neptune Resources at 816-256-2071 Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST. They also recommend consumers to contact their physician or health care provider if they have experienced any problems that may be related to using the products.
Contributing: Krystal Nurse, .