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|Molar mass||349.61 g mol−1|
|Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)|
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Phenazepam is a benzodiazepine drug, which was developed in the Soviet Union in 1974 and now produced in Russia and some CIS countries. Phenazepam is used in the treatment of neurological disorders such as epilepsy, alcohol withdrawal syndrome and insomnia. It can be used as a premedication before surgery as it augments the effects of anesthetics and reduces anxiety. Recently, phenazepam has gained popularity as a recreational drug; misuse has been reported in the United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, and the United States.
Side effects include hiccups, dizziness, loss of coordination and drowsiness, along with anterograde amnesia which can be quite pronounced at high doses. As with other benzodiazepines, in case of abrupt discontinuation following prolonged use, severe withdrawal symptoms may occur including restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, seizures, convulsions and death.
Contraindications and special caution
Phenazepam should not be taken with alcohol or any other CNS depressants. Phenazepam should not be used therapeutically for periods of longer than one month including tapering on and off the drug as recommended for any benzodiazepine in the British national formulary. Some patients may require longer term treatment.
Phenazepam was found to be a component in some herbal incense mixtures in Australia & New Zealand in 2011, namely "Kronic". The particular product variety was withdrawn shortly from the market after and replaced with a new formulation.
Detection in biological fluids
Phenazepam may be measured in blood or plasma by chromatographic methods. Blood phenazepam concentrations are typically less than 30 μg/L during therapeutic usage, but have frequently been in the 100-600 μg/L range in automotive vehicle operators arrested for impaired driving ability.
Under federal United States law, phenazepam is not currently classified as a controlled substance, as the Federal Analog Act only provides for automatic assumed classification of chemicals "substantially similar" to existing Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, whereas all controlled benzodiazepines under the Controlled Substances Act are classified as Schedule IV. Although phenazepam is currently not controlled, sale for human use remains illegal in the United States. Manufacturers circumvent this regulation via a "Not for human use" disclaimer on the product's label, providing a legal loophole as products not intended for human consumption are exempt from FDA approval.
Individual states in the United States often ban these analog drugs by name as they appear. On May 21, 2012, Louisiana state Governor Bobby Jindal approved legislation classifying phenazepam as a controlled dangerous substance. This ban affected several products, some of which were sold at retail stores under the guise of air freshener or similar, containing phenazepam yet claiming not to be for human use. This legislation was introduced after one such product, branded as "Zannie" and marketed as an air freshener rapidly gained publicity as the subject of numerous media reports, attracting the attention of officials. The ensuing investigation effort, led by Senator Fred Mills and Louisiana Poison Center Director Dr. Mark Ryan, positively identified the active ingredient of "Zannie" as phenazepam. According to Dr. Ryan, chemical analysis identified the active ingredient as "100 percent phenazepam".
Dr. Paul Halverson, director and state health officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, approved an emergency rule to ban the sale and distribution of phenazepam shortly after the Louisiana ban. The actions in Louisiana and Arkansas add this drug as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Schedule I Controlled Substances have no approved medical use in the United States and include substances of high abuse. Despite its general legality in all other states, sale for human consumption is illegal.
Phenazepam is a class C drug in the UK.
The UK home office banned importation of phenazepam on Friday 22 July 2011 while it drafted legislation, released in January 2012 to become law at the end of March 2012. The bill was quashed following advice from the ACMD as it included two non-abusable steroids. There was a new discussion about its fate on April 23, 2012, where it was decided that the bill would be rewritten and phenazepam would still be banned.
It was eventually banned on June 13, 2012 as a class C, schedule II drug.
Phenazepam is not scheduled in Finland.
Phenazepam is considered a narcotic in Norway, as per a March 23, 2010 Health Department addition to the Regular Narcotic List.
In Russia, while the drug is considered a prescription medication (but not a controlled one, as all other benzodiazepines), some pharmacies sell it without prescriptions required.
Phenazepam is being used as a street/recreational drug in Turkey under the name of Bonzai or Bonzai Supersleep
- Species differences in phenazepam kinetics and metabolism, National Center for Biotechnology Information, USA
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