NSW Health is warning people not to buy prescription medications on overseas websites or off the street after the discovery of counterfeit versions of anti-anxiety drugs.
NSW Poisons Information Centre clinical director Professor Andrew Dawson said a number of products have tested positive for etizolam instead of the expected alprazolam, and other drugs have also been detected in the counterfeit products. These can be extremely harmful.
“We have seen a doubling in calls about alprazolam to the NSW Poisons Information Centre just in the past two months,” Professor Dawson said.
The counterfeit products are labelled with the brand names “Xanax” or
“Mylan” which are not sold through pharmacies in Australia. There are also reports of counterfeit versions of the Australian brand, “Kalma” 2mg.
“The packaging and tablets are cleverly copied to look like prescription pharmaceutical brands so we are urging people to only buy from registered Australian pharmacies.”
“If you have taken a tablet purchased online or from the street and are experiencing side effects, call Triple Zero immediately or seek urgent medical attention.”
Anyone who has concerns about these tablets or adverse effects from benzodiazepines should contact the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for confidential advice.
Signs of overdose include difficulty or slowed breathing, lack of consciousness and seizures.
NSW Health has notified the Therapeutic Goods Administration of these counterfeit medications, who have issued their own safety advisory: www.tga.gov.au/alert/counterfeit-alprazolam-2mg-and-kalma-2-tablets
For support and information about alcohol and other drugs, please contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service – 1800 250 015 – a 24/7 service offering confidential and anonymous telephone counselling and information. NUAA also provides a range of harm minimisation resources and advice and can be reached on 1800 644 413.
Associated public drug warnings can be found here: www.health.nsw.gov.au/aod/public-drug-alerts/Pages/default.aspx
In 2020/21 the Government will invest more than $231 million delivering alcohol and other drug prevention, education, treatment and ongoing care programs state-wide.