CDC Detects Synthetic Cannabinoids, THC in Recalled Neptune’s Fix Supplements

Undisclosed chemicals in recalled Neptune's Fix supplements could cause serious health side effects, such as those reported among some users of the "gas station heroin"

Federal health officials indicate that Neptune’s Fix products sold at convenience stories nationwide, which are commonly referred to as “gas station heroin”, appear to contain several potentially harmful substances, which may be responsible for serious and life-threatening health side effects reported among users the recalled dietary supplement.

In findings published last week in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), researchers report that they detected synthetic cannabinoids, and other likely dangerous additives in recalled Neptune’s Fix products.

Neptune’s Fix was marketed as a dietary supplement to improve brain function, anxiety, depression, pain, and opioid use disorder. It contains the drug tianeptine, which is an opioid receptor that is prescribed as an antidepressant in some other countries, but has not been approved for medical use in the U.S.

Although tianeptine in Neptune’s Fix produces opioid-like effects, it has been widely available at gas stations until recently.

Neptune’s Fix Recall and Warning

The FDA announced a Neptune’s Fix recall on January 29, after an investigation revealed the product was linked to reports of overdoses, seizures, loss of consciousness, and suicidal behavior.

The recall impacted all of Neptune’s Fix products, including elixirs, extra strength elixirs, and tablets, and was issued only a week after the FDA warned about potentially life-threatening side effects of Neptune’s fix. In the warning, the FDA indicated that consumers with a history of opioid use disorder or dependency may face a higher risk of becoming addicted to the dietary supplement. Abuse and misuse of tianeptine could also result in coma or death, the FDA indicated in the warning first released on January 23.

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The FDA has issued also issued a number of prior warnings about potential health risks associated with tianeptine. In 2018, the agency indicated that tianeptine exposure had been associated with a growing number of serious side effects, including addiction. Another tianeptine warning issued in 2022 urged consumers to avoid using Coaxial, Stablon or Tianna supplements containing tianeptine that were being illegally marketed as a dietary supplement to treating various ailments, which are not approved by the FDA.

Neptune’s Fix Investigation

The CDC investigation began after a New Jersey poison control database suggested there were more than 20 tianeptine exposure calls from healthcare facilities between June 17 and November 6, 2023, compared to normal rates of two or less tianeptine exposure calls per year.

Among the 17 consumers who experienced problems, 14 reported they ingested Neptune’s Fix containing tianeptine and kavain, another sedating dietary supplement extracted from the kava plant. Nine patients reported they had previously used tianeptine, and six reported they had consumed other substances with tianeptine, such as sedatives, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, synthetic opioids, and herbal substances with opioid-like effects

All individuals were admitted to a medical facility with altered mental states after consuming tianeptine. According to the report, 11 patients suffered abnormally fast heart rates, 10 experienced dangerously low blood pressure, eight suffered seizures, seven experienced irregular heart rhythms, four experienced delayed heartbeats, and one suffered cardiac arrest. In addition, 13 patients were admitted to an intensive care unit, and seven underwent endotracheal intubation; an emergency medical procedure required for those who are unconscious, or cannot breathe on their own.

While no deaths were reported among the patients, CDC researchers indicate the irregular heart rhythms and delayed heartbeats are known to be associated with an increased risk of developing ventricular arrhythmias; abnormal heart rhythms that make the lower chambers of your heart twitch instead of pump.

Synthetic CBD Found in Neptune’s Fix

After the CDC initiated its investigation, researchers tested samples of both opened and unopened bottles of Neptune’s Fix products obtained from two patients who experienced serious side effects.

According to the report, the researchers found several other ingredients in the six samples they analyzed that were not disclosed on the products’ labels. Testing revealed the products contained cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), both psychoactive ingredients found in cannabis plants. CDC investigators also detected potentially harmful synthetic marijuana cannabinoids ADB-4en-PINACA and MDMB-4en-PINACA.

The researchers warned that the health risks associated with artificially made cannabinoids are not well known, however, they have been shown to be highly potent in vitro, and have been identified in autopsy toxicology testing.

CDC officials call for the public and healthcare professionals to be aware of the health risks associated with unapproved tianeptine, which has been sold under the product names Neptune’s Fix, Pegasus, and Zaza. They also warn consumers to be mindful that these products may be adulterated with other undisclosed ingredients, which may produce serious and unexpected side effects or drug dependency.


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