27 September 2023

Health issues warning of fake anxiety meds

Start the conversation

NSW Heath is warning the State’s community about strong opioids recently found in fake Kalma alprazolam tablets.

The medication is generally prescribed for short-term symptomatic treatment of anxiety.

Acting Medical Director of the NSW Poisons Information Centre, Andrew Dawson said the fake tablets were found to contain strong opioids, namely etodesnitazene, which has a similar potency to fentanyl.

Professor Dawson said another synthetic opioid (O-desmethyltramadol) was found in the tablets, and fentanyl test strips were unable to detect either opioid.

“Consuming even a single tablet containing strong opioids can cause unexpected and severe overdose or death,” Professor Dawson said.

“The risk of harm is greatly increased if tablets are consumed in combination with benzodiazepines and alcohol,” he said.

“Overdose can cause difficulty speaking or walking, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, slow breathing, snoring and skin turning blue.”

Professor Dawson urged anyone who had taken an unknown tablet and was experiencing unexpected symptoms, such as drowsiness, to call Triple Zero (000) immediately or seek urgent medical attention.

He said naloxone should be given immediately if available, with repeat doses of naloxone possibly required.

The Acting Medical Director said naloxone was an important life-saving medication that reversed the effects of opioids, didn’t require a prescription and was free for anyone at risk of opioid overdose in NSW.

“You won’t get into trouble for seeking medical care,” Professor Dawson said.

“If you feel unwell, or if your friend feels unwell, do something about it,” he said.

“Don’t ignore it. Don’t wait,”

Further information on the fake Kalma tablets can be accessed at this PS News link.

Support and information on drug, alcohol and other substance is available 24/7 from the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1800 250 015.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.