15 July, 2012
Reporter: Tanveer Ahmed
Producer: Alex Hodgkinson

Said to be more addictive than cocaine, Xanax is the anti-anxiety drug in the medicine cabinet of millions of Australian homes.

Many feel it is being over prescribed here by inexperienced doctors unaware of the drug's dark side.

Danielle Hannan was a striking Sydney socialite. A fashion model who spoke three languages.

Ten years ago a doctor prescribed Xanax for her anxiety. Now at 47, she is addicted to the drug and spends her days in a flat with her partner Charlie.

Her current doctor, Dr Tanveer Ahmed, has struggled to help her with her condition for four years.

"Xanax is the most potent anti-anxiety drug on the market, a powerful version of valium that works fast," Tanveer said.

What concerns Dr Ahmed is how powerfully addictive Xanax is. He says it’s time the Federal Government acted and Xanax was made harder to get.

Last year, more than one million prescriptions for the drug were written in Australia.

In 1992 Daniel Politi was one of the first Australians prescribed Xanax. He was 14 at the time.

Doctors first gave him the tablets to control panic attacks but he quickly became addicted.

After marrying and gaining a solid job with Telstra, he lost it all when he couldn’t kick Xanax and the feeling the tablets gave him.

In the United States a single Xanax tablet can sell for $100 - a bottle of generic Xanax can be worth up to $30,000 on the street.

Across New York's Long Island, chemists have been forced to install elaborate security to combat Xanax addicts.

Pfizer Statement:

Xanax® (alprazolam tablets) is indicated for use in patients with anxiety, for short-term symptomatic treatment of anxiety including treatment of anxious patients with some symptoms of depression. Xanax is also indicated for use in patients with Panic Disorder, for the treatment of panic disorder with or without some phobic avoidance, and for blocking or attenuation of panic attacks and phobias in patients who have agoraphobia with panic attacks.

Pfizer does not endorse the use of our medicines outside the approved indications, nor does it condone the misuse or abuse of any medicines prescribed to patients.

Pfizer is committed to supporting patients and healthcare professionals in offering education about the quality use of our medicines. This includes highlighting the importance of taking medicines appropriately.

It is important that Doctors are aware of the benefits and risks of using Xanax and communicate these to patients before prescribing the product. These are included in the Xanax Product information (PI) for doctors and Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) for patients. When prescribed and taken as indicated, Xanax has a well established safety profile and is an important treatment option that has benefitted millions of patients.

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