Flualprazolam: Report of an outbreak of a new psychoactive substance in adolescents

Adam Blumenberg, Adrienne Hughes, Andrew Reckers, Ross Ellison, Roy Gerona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Flualprazolam is a nonregistered drug in the benzodiazepine family and constitutes a new psychoactive substance (NPS). Since 2014, a growing number of designer benzodiazepines have become available over the Internet and on the counterfeit drug market. In June 2019, a cluster of patients intoxicated with flualprazolam was identified by the Oregon Poison Center. As an emerging drug of abuse, the clinical characteristics of flualprazolam have been poorly characterized thus far. Over a one-week period, 6 teenagers presented to local emergency departments after ingesting illegally obtained counterfeit alprazolam, which led to sedation. Other symptoms included slurred speech, confusion, and mild respiratory depression. All 6 patients had resolution of their symptoms within 6 hours of ingestion. Blood and urine samples, as well as a tablet fragment, were obtained from 3 patients. The tablet and biological samples were analyzed by using liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry and were found to contain the NPS flualprazolam without other drugs or intoxicants. With this case series, we add to the medical literature a clinical description of an emerging drug of abuse. Flualprazolam appears to share the clinical properties of other benzodiazepines. As flualprazolam and other NPSs become more common, physicians must be aware of their availability and characteristics. Sedation lasting,6 hours was observed in 6 of 6 patients exposed to flualprazolam. No effects that would be unexpected from benzodiazepine intoxication were seen among the patients. Specifically, none developed prolonged symptoms or required intubation and mechanical ventilation, ICU admission, or antidotal therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20192953
JournalPediatrics
Volume146
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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