Urgent warning: Illegal drugs being sold as anti-anxiety medication in Wales

Swansea Bay NHS has issued an urgent warning after people have been overdosing on fake pills.

An alarming number of people have been admitted to Morriston Hospital after overdosing on what they were told was anti-anxiety medication. The pills were actually found to be recreational drugs that were being posed as medicines like Valium and Xanax. The drugs were being sold illegally in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

Urgent warning

Swansea Bay NHS has now issued an urgent warning urging people to refrain from taking these drugs. They wrote on their Facebook page:

WARNING: A number of people are seriously ill in Morriston Hospital after overdosing on what is believed to be a bad batch of illegal recreational drugs possibly being mis-sold as Valium and Xanax. The casualties were taken to the hospital’s Emergency Department today, Wednesday 7th July in a serious condition.
People are being warned of the dangers of taking these drugs. The Emergency Department remains extremely busy this evening, and people are being asked to avoid attending unless they have a serious injury or illness.

Fake pill crisis

This is not the first instance in which fake drugs were being mis-sold to vulnerable customers. Public Health Wales (PHW) revealed that the number of pills that were being sent in by users worried about their authenticity had increased, and more than half the pills they tested in their lab were found to be fake. A majority of them were anti-anxiety pills like diazepam and Xanax.

Josie Smith, the head of substance misuse in PHW, has said that the problem has only gotten worse since the pandemic. She explained on BBC Radio Wales:

Given the stresses, strains and pressures that people have been under in the past year, they may have been more inclined to self-medicate with medicines not prescribed to them.
We are more frequently now hearing from individuals saying that they didn't wish to go to their GP to talk about the challenges they were experiencing and found it easier to go online.
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