04-04-18 Phenibut: Is It a Smart Drug To Take?

Toxicology Question of the Week

April 4, 2018

Clinical picture of Phenibut toxicity is similar to that of baclofen.  ds

Phenibut: Is It a Smart Drug To Take? 

The Tennessee Poison Center has received several calls over the past few weeks from clinicians about a drug named phenibut.

WHAT IS IT?

Phenibut (beta-phenyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid), AKA: Fenibut, Noofen, Phenigam, party powder. Is a neuropsychotropic drug that was first discovered and introduced into clinical practice in Russia in the 1960’s. Soviet cosmonauts use it for its mentally stimulating and calming effects! Phenibut is labeled as a nootropic “smart drug”. It is unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. It can be purchased in the United States via the Internet as a dietary supplement for anxiety, sedation, stress reduction, insomnia, mood enhancement and cognition enhancement.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

It acts as a GABA‐mimetic, primarily at GABAB and, to some extent, at GABAA receptors. It also stimulates dopamine receptors and antagonizes β‐phenethylamine (PEA), a putative endogenous anxiogenic. The psychopharmacological activity of phenibut is similar to that of baclofen, a p‐Cl‐derivative of phenibut.

PHENIBUT                                                       BACLOFEN

                                          

SIDE EFFECTS:

Are generally linked to its central nervous system depressant effects, such as CNS and respiratory depression.

These include gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting) central nervous system symptoms (insomnia, agitation, confusion, euphoria, depression, hallucinations)

TREATMENT:

In the changing pace of the designer drug market, please call the Tennessee Poison Center 1-800-222-122 for the latest updates on treatment modalities. Treatment includes good supportive care and benzodiazepines for agitation.

CONCLUSION:

Caveat Emptor! Since the advent of the Internet, many substances including illegal ones have found their way to consumers across the USA. The reported adverse effects of phenibut are just the tip of an iceberg of an unregulated buy online designer drug market with no standards of quality assurance.

REFEREENCES:

Phenibut (β‐Phenyl‐GABA): A Tranquilizer and Nootropic Drug

Izyaslav Lapin

Micromedex/Poisondex Heath Series by Truven Health Analytics

The Vaults of Erowid

www.bing.com/images/search

This Question was prepared by: Nena Bowman, PharmD, DABAT, Managing Director of Tennessee Poison Center

I am interested in any questions you would like answered in the Question of the Week.  Please email me with any suggestion at donna.seger@vanderbilt.edu

Donna Seger, MD

Medical Director

Tennessee Poison Center

www.tnpoisoncenter.org

Poison Help Hotline: 1-800-222-1222

The Question of the Week is available on our website: www.tnpoisoncenter.org