Arkansas Department of Health director approves emergency rule to ban sale of phenazepam

The sale and distribution of a recreational drug considered to be five times stronger than Valium was banned last week in Arkansas, according to a statement from the Arkansas Department of Health.

The drug, phenazepam (also spelled fenazepam), has seen increased recreational usage in several countries, including the U.S., Finland, Sweden and Norway. Under the emergency ban, phenazepam now is considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance. In short, the classification means phenazepam has no approved medical use in the U.S. and has been linked to instances of abuse, according to the statement.

The rule is effective immediately.

Phenezapam is most commonly ingested orally, and can cause amnesia, dizziness, drowsiness, depression of the central nervous system and ataxia when taken in excess of the therapeutic dose. It was first developed in the Soviet Union in the 1970’s to treat neurological disorders and alcohol withdrawal. However, it is not available by prescription in the U.S.

When used in conjunction with other drugs, it can cause toxic interactions which have led to at least one fatality, according to the statement.

The Arkansas State Board of Health soon will begin the rule-making process, which will take about four months, including 30 days for public comment and review by committees representing the House and Senate. The emergency rule will be in effect only for 180 days.

“This new law is not intended to place people into the criminal justice system,” said Dr. Paul Halverson, director of the Arkansas Department of Health. “This regulation is intended to educate the public about the dangers of this drug and illicit drug use, as well as restricting ready access to minors. Enforcement responsibilities will fall primarily to local law enforcement and prosecutors.”

Contact Neogen for inquiries regarding the detection of phenazepam, which cross-reacts with Neogen’s benzodiazepine group test.

Current stories:

Bills seek to stop illegal drugs – The Monroe News Star

Phenazepam abuse in the UK: An emerging problem causing serious adverse health problems, including death — Human Psychopharmacology

Past news stories:

Warning over unlicensed drug – The Herald (Scotland)

Warning over online ‘Valium’ – The Herald  (Scotland)

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