Poison control calls spike for unapproved drug that produces opioid-like highs

Calls to U.S. poison control centers about an unapproved antidepressant that has opioid-like effects have climbed dramatically since 2015, according to a new analysis published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tianeptine is used as an antidepressant in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. It hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But it’s easy to buy the drug online as a diet supplement or research chemical and is sometimes abused, because it can give users an opioid-like high.

Now, as the opioid crisis continues to flare, health officials are worried it could pose a possible public health threat. In April, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder passed a measure to reclassify tianeptine as a Schedule II controlled substance after a series of overdoses linked to the drug in 2017.

Megan Thielking/STAT