A call for a review of the classification of a drug has been made by two politicians after a surge in north-east deaths.
North-east MSP Tom Mason and Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson have been campaigning for action to address the rising rate of fatalities in the NHS Grampian area due to tranquilliser alprazolam – brand name Xanax.
The Evening Express revealed the dangers of the drug in a series of articles two months ago.
In 2017, there were 29 deaths in which alprazolam was found in toxicology reports, compared to 11 in 2016.
The anti-anxiety medication is a Class C drug in the UK, but it can be lethal when mixed with alcohol or opiates.
Now, the Scottish Conservative politicians are writing to the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs, which makes recommendations to government on the control of dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs.
Mr Mason said: “We have already called on the SNP Health Secretary to take action to better educate the public.
“We also believe that there could be an argument to examine the current Class C status of alprazolam.
“If we are to look at that seriously, however, the first thing that must happen is for the matter to be referred to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.”
Pfizer, the company behind Xanax, said: “Xanax, a controlled medicine in the UK, is subject to strict regulations and must be prescribed appropriately by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
“We are alarmed by the rise of counterfeit Xanax and its growing availability on the internet and dark web.”