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Finnish Customs warns about life-threatening counterfeit pharmaceutical tablets containing opioid

Publication date 7.5.2019 8.00
Press release

Customs has seized counterfeit pharmaceutical tablets, which contain the life-threatening opioid U-47700 and other active ingredients. The counterfeit tablets were mainly acquired for personal use, but it is likely that they have also ended up on the illegal market.

During the last two years, Customs has seized different types of counterfeit tablets, which by their appearance could be assumed to contain the benzodiazepine called alprazolam. Alprazolam is used in the treatment of depression, anxiety and panic disorders. In examinations by the Customs Laboratory, a powerful opioid called U-47700 was found in the tablets instead of alprazolam. The opioid is life-threatening and there is no legal use for the substance. The tablets containing the U-47700 opioid outwardly look like tablets sold e.g. under the brand name Xanax.

Customs has also seized other counterfeit benzodiazepine products containing other active ingredients. In examinations by the Customs Laboratory, the counterfeit pharmaceuticals have contained designer drugs called N-Ethylhexedrone, diclazepam and etizolam instead of alprazolam, amantadine used for the treatment of Parkinson’s decease, and the antihistamines chlorphenamine, promethazine and cyproheptadine. Most of the counterfeit tablets containing the designer drug etizolam outwardly look like the pharmaceutical tablet sold, e.g., under the brand names Xanax and Valium.

The counterfeit tablets were bought, for example, on foreign websites and were sent to Finland by post or as freight consignments. In most cases, the person placing the order was a private person who ordered the tablets mainly for their own use. It is also possible that larger consignments of counterfeit tablets have been brought into the country for distribution.

Media release