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Warning Issued After Fake Xanax Tablets Found In Australia

Fake Xanax tablets that have been packaged to look like the popular anti-anxiety drug have been circulated in Australia, prompting authorities to issue a warning.

Authorities discovered that the fake medication had been stamped to look similar to the pharmaceutical product 'Alprazolam' (Xanax).

The fraudulent drug was instead 'Etizolam', an unregistered benzodiazepine medication.

Benzodiazepines are prescribed short-term for a range of health issues, including anxiety, sleep disorders and alcohol withdrawal.

Professor Nick Buckley, Acting Clinical Director at the NSW Poisons Information Centre, said so far two tablets had been confirmed as fraudulent.

He warned there had also been several patients presenting to doctors with serious side effects.

“We’ve seen four people recently where Etizolam use has been associated with serious harm,” Buckley said.

The tablets were made to look like the drug Xanax (Alprazolam). Image: Getty

Authorities are warning people against turning to the streets or online to purchase benzodiazepine medication.

The unregistered medication Etizolam is currently being sold illegally in Australia in the form of counterfeit tablets. They are packaged to give the appearance of Alprazolam (Xanax), authorities say.

“Etizolam has similar effects to other benzodiazepines but is not used medically in Australia. These tablets are not pharmaceutical grade and, as a result, can have widely variable doses and effects,” Buckley said.

National

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Major adverse effects include prolonged drowsiness, muscle weakness, fainting,  slurred speech, visual disturbances and tremor.

“The effects will depend on the dose of Etizolam in each tablet, how many tablets people consume and whether they regularly consume other benzodiazepines,” Buckley said.

“If you have taken a tablet you 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 Etizolam or Alprazolam should contact the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au