‘Gas Station Heroin’ Was Just Banned in Ohio

Ohio is the latest state to ban tianeptine, an antidepressant known as “zaza” or “gas station heroin” because it can mimic the effects of opioids.
A bottle of TD Red, a brand of tianeptine, an antidepressant known as "gas station heroin." (Image courtesy of source)

Ohio just became the latest state to ban tianeptine, an antidepressant known as “gas station heroin” because it can mimic the effects of opioids and is being sold at gas stations, convenience stores, and online. 

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order allowing the state’s Board of Pharmacy to issue an emergency ban on tianeptine products on Dec. 22, according to a news release, which cited reporting from VICE News. 


The ban means tianeptine products, which are often marketed as dietary supplements under names like ZaZa, Tianna, TD Red, and Pegasus, are now considered a Schedule I drug in the state and are illegal to sell. Vendors and consumers who violate the ban are subject to penalties that range from mandated drug treatment, fines, or 6 to 12 months of jail time. 

The Board of Pharmacy found that tianeptine has “no accepted medical use in treatment in this state and poses an imminent hazard to the public health, safety, or welfare.” Michigan, Alabama, Minnesota, Tennessee, Georgia, and Indiana have also banned tianeptine, and in February, the FDA issued a warning stating that it’s been associated with “serious harm, overdoses, and death.” 

Tianeptine is a tricyclic antidepressant available via prescription in some countries in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, but it’s not approved for use in the U.S. Experts previously told VICE News there’s little transparency as to exactly how much of it—and other chemicals—are in the products being sold in gas stations. 

Because tianeptine hits opioid receptors in the brain, it can mimic opioid toxicity and withdrawal. Some users told VICE News they’re hooked on it and have experienced intense withdrawals when they’ve stopped using it, even after a few hours, with symptoms that include severe anxiety, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, and chills. 


“We’re certainly hoping folks will just say ‘Hey this is garbage… we should get rid of it’,” said Cameron McNamee, a spokesman for the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. McNamee said the state has alerted local public health departments and police departments about the ban and is planning on sending out more notices translated into different languages to help spread awareness. 

“The availability of an unregulated, tricyclic antidepressant without any medical supervision presents a serious risk to public health. Media reports indicate that patients are utilizing tianeptine to either manage withdrawal or initiating use based upon the reported opioid-like effects,” the news release said, referencing a VICE News story. 

If you've had adverse reactions or gotten addicted to tianeptine or other drugs marketed as supplements, we'd like to hear from you. Email

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