Deadly New 'Legal' Drug Bound For Britain
A British "legal drugs" manufacturer based in Belgium has told Sky News the UK is about to be flooded with a deadly new drug called naphyrone.
Dave Llewellyn, who admits supplying large quantities of mephedrone to customers in the UK, said the new chemical is so dangerous he was refusing to sell it on his website - although it would not be against the law.
"This stuff is absolutely evil - it's going to cause all sorts of psychological problems," he told Sky News.
"It will cause long-term brain damage from the very first hit and eventually it's going to end up with bodies."
Naphyrone is already being marketed as a mephedrone replacement, but according to Mr Llewellyn it is far more toxic than many illegal drugs like cocaine and ecstasy.
The substance is sold online under the name NRG-1 and costs as little as 25 pence a hit.
The fact it is so cheap means, according to Mr Llewellyn, that it is likely to become hugely popular with youngsters.
"I think it really could be Europe's crystal meth. I can see an epidemic where people are getting into it without realising what they're getting into and then having to go back for more."
For the moment naphyrone is not widely available in the UK, but its presence is a concern for many established scientists.
Medical director of the charity Addaction Dr Ken Checinski has warned those considering taking the designer drug to think again.
"We know a little about its chemistry. We know it's a variant of other substances both legal and illegal that can cause psychological and physical harm," he said.
The Government is currently trying to outlaw mephedrone - but naphyrone is likely to escape the ban for the moment.
Mephedrone has been linked to the deaths of a number of people across Europe.
Mr Llewellyn says the UK's lucrative legal drugs market, which is worth hundreds of millions of pounds every year, is being targeted by dealers based in the Far East.
"The Chinese have been getting this ready for the last six months to take over the moment mephedrone is banned.
"It has been ready but why have two things banned at the same time - they want to keep their factories churning over these chemicals."
Naphyrone will present legislators with another headache.
It is also likely to reignite the debate about how best to deal with the wave of new legal synthetic drugs which continue to hit the market, despite the ban of previous substances.
8:44am UK, Thursday April 01, 2010
Alex Rossi, Europe correspondent