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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    A new warning has been issued by Scots health experts after it emerged that an unlicensed Russian drug, known as Bonsai Supersleep, left five young users in hospital.

    NHS experts have discovered that the drug taken by the teenagers, who needed treatment at Borders General Hospital after taking it earlier this month, was the anxiety drug phenazepam.

    The concerns have now been circulated in a warning message to health boards and NHS professionals.

    In August, The Herald revealed how Scottish Government experts circulated warnings about the drug that had become freely available on the internet.

    The initial warning was issued after at least three users were known to have overdosed in England and Wales and a user in Aberdeen said he had ended up in hospital after washing it down with four cans of lager.

    Now it has emerged that a fresh NHS intelligence brief has been circulated as one of the Borders youngsters in hospital wrote to friends warning that he had taken Bonsai and he feared it could have killed him.

    Aaron Myatt, 19, from Selkirk, wrote: “Serious warning. If you get offered a legal drug called Bonsai don’t take it if you value your life in the slightest.

    “I spent a week in hospital over it and need to rest for two to three weeks. I could have died. Spread the word.”

    Phenazepam, which is not on any banned list but is not licensed, had previously been passed off as diazepam, a medication used for treating anxiety and insomnia, commonly known as Valium.

    Now there is concern that phenazepam sellers are trying to market it as the new party drug. It is feared the new street name of Bonsai will entice youngsters who believe it may be linked to mephedrone, which is often labelled plant food and is also known as meow meow.

    EU justice ministers earlier this month agreed to ban mephedrone, whose physical effects compare to those of ecstasy or cocaine. It was banned in Britain last March after it was linked with several deaths.

    Medical experts are concerned that the imported phenazepam is three times as strong as other similar drugs, and that its effects can last up to three times as long.

    The Borders incident has prompted internal discussions about bringing in a system for NHS staff to be educated about the products in circulation.

    One Scottish NHS drug expert said: “The warnings will hopefully achieve awareness among health professionals, the general population, and of course parents about what is happening with phenazepam, about the potential for misuse and prevent any confusion that there may be with mephedrone.”

    Experts say that when used in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs, it will greatly increase the effects of reduced consciousness and respiratory depression. Side-effects of phenazepam include dizziness, drowsiness, loss of co-ordination and amnesia.

    When properly prescribed, the drug has been used in the treatment of anxiety. It has also been used in the treatment of muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal and drug dependence, as well as being a pre-operation sedative.

    The circular from the Scottish Government’s Primary and Community Care Directorate to healthcare professionals earlier this year warns of the “illicit use and subsequent overdose” associated with the drug.

    It says: “Phenazepam is not commonly used in the UK and it may be being passed off as diazepam. The risks remain the same as for all benzodiazepines [the class of drug to which it belongs], but phenazepam is reported to last up to 60 hours.

    “The onset of sedative effects [is] slower though more potent than the more commonly used UK benzodiazepines.

    “This combination presents increased likelihood of overdose, particularly if the user does not know what they are using.

    “Intelligence received suggests that more of these drugs may come into circulation.”

    23 Dec 2010



  1. jon-q
    Warning over legal Russian drug phenazepam

    Russian epilepsy medication is being increasingly used in the UK as a substitute for illegal drugs, scientists have warned.

    Phenazepam is a psychoactive also used to treat conditions like insomnia and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

    But researchers at Dundee University said they had detected a "trend of misuse".

    The drug is not controlled in the UK, most of Europe or the US - so can be purchased legally over the internet.

    Phenazepam is available on prescription in Russia and many other CIS states.

    Reports from Sweden, Finland, and the US suggest it is being used illicitly in place of similar drugs like diazepam.

    The Dundee team said they had found nine cases since January 2011 where postmortem blood samples had contained phenazepam.

    Dr Peter Maskell, a lecturer in forensic toxicology at Dundee, said the discovery suggested use of the drug was on the increase in the UK, but stressed that it could not be directly identified as the cause of death in any of the circumstances.

    He said: "It would seem it is increasingly being used as a replacement for other drugs, most notably diazepam, because we are seeing more instances of its use.

    "Whether that is actually a deliberate switch on the part of users or because it is what dealers are selling is unclear at this stage.

    "Like other benzodiazepines, phenazepam can be addictive and mixing with other drugs such as heroin or alcohol increases the risk of drug interaction."

    Concern over illicit use of the drug in the UK was raised in 2010, when three people in the East Midlands and six people in Scotland were admitted to hospital after phenazepam overdoses.

    These cases and increased seizures of the drug by police led the Scottish government to issue warnings about phenazepam.

    The Dundee team began screening postmortem blood samples for phenazepam from the end of January 2011. In each of the nine cases detected, the victims had a history of drug use.

    Dr Maskell added, "Although we have detected use in nine cases, phenazepam cannot be directly identified as a cause of death in any of them. There is a key difference between this drug and other legally available substances which have hit the headlines in recent years.

    "This is not a party drug likely to be consumed by casual users but is more likely to be seen in persons with a history of misuse, often with harder drugs such as heroin, methadone and other opiates."

    BBC News 7th July 2011
  2. Alfa
    We could have told them 2 years ago that phenazepam would turn out like this.
  3. missparkles
    We quite possibly did Alfa. lol

  4. Yail Bloor
    I got an infraction when I stepped out of line and got a little tough with a member here who recklessly insisted on eyeballing phenazepam, and now it's hitting the streets? Holy shit, who the hell is gonna tell kids at a party something is dangerous? At least here if someone wants to listen we can give sound advice, can you imagine a bag of that shit being passed around a party? It's the "It is feared the new street name of Bonsai will entice youngsters who believe it may be linked to mephedrone, which is often labelled plant food and is also known as meow meow." qoute that really worries me, especially given phenazepams potency. Okay, not even mephedrone specifically, but no run-of-the-mill partygoer is going to have any clue about the doseage. And even if, who the fuck at this party is gonna have a precise milligram scale? No one, kids will be railing lines of the shit, dipping fingers in, etcetera. Ugh.

    Just what the media needs. Something that powerful causing multiple overdoses at an alarming rate, no less something as easily vilifiable as a substance with a 60 hour half life. This just looks bad on all drug users, but hell, if so many of us don't have the sense to know what were taking, maybe we deserve it.

    There is no word for my distaste and concern regarding these articles and their implications, but I assure you, I mimiced wretching sounds several times and made unpleasent faces at the moniter while typing this post.
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