Warning issued after new street drug appears in Cape Breton

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Public Health officials are warning about a new street drug in Nova Scotia.

On the surface, the tablets appear to be the prescription pill Xanax.

A sample was sent to a national drug lab after it was picked up by law enforcement in Cape Breton. The pills tested positive for etizolam, which is not approved by Health Canada.

Etizolam is described as a benzodiazepine-like substance similar to Valium, but is 10 times more toxic.

"It's about awareness of some of these new substances that we now can confirm are in our drug supply here in Nova Scotia," said Sara Wuite, a public health acting manager.

"The particular substance ... was actually designed or made to look like Xanax, so the concern is that folks may think that they're purchasing or acquiring Xanax on the street, but actually it has a different drug inside than what they've purchased."

Naloxone has no effect

Another concern with the substance is that it may be branded as an opioid, as seen in other parts of the country.

Similiar to benzodiazepines, etizolam cannot be reversed by administering the overdose drug naloxone.

"If you ever suspect an opioid overdose, administering naloxone is really important," said Wuite. "It's also really important to call 911 in case there's something else at play ... and know that you won't hurt somebody by administering naloxone."

According to Public Health, the recent etizolam tablets appear to be white and triangular in shape, with three lines on each side, along with a "XANAX" logo and the number "2."