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Fenethylline, the generic name of Captagon, was first produced in the 1960s to treat hyperactivity, narcolepsy, and depression. It was banned in most countries by the 1980s for being too addictive.

It remains popular in the Middle East and is used as a stimulant in the area to aid in combat.

The drug is cheap and simple to produce, using ingredients that are easy and often legal to obtain, yet sells for up to $20 a tablet. A Lebanese psychiatrist, Ramzi Haddad, said that Captagon had "the typical effects of a stimulant", producing "a kind of euphoria. You're talkative, you don't sleep, you don't eat, you're energetic."