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Popular anti-anxiety medications need stronger warning labels, Health Canada says (Cheyenne Johnson, BCCSU)

Clonazepam pills, the generic form of the sedative Klonopin, is one of the prescription medications that will receive new warning labels. (Photo credit: CBC News)

Combining depressant drugs multiplies risks

Health Canada has asked pharmaceutical companies to put stronger safety labels on benzodiazepines and other sedative drugs prescribed for sleep and anxiety disorder to better reflect their serious risks.

Doctors have long prescribed benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (brand name Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin) in the short term to treat anxiety, insomnia and certain seizure disorders. But people can become dependent and an overdose can result in a coma or even death.

Cheyenne Johnson of the BC Centre on Substance Use said benzodiazepines are frequently misused with opioids, which can be fatal.

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