The last week has seen an increase in media reports of incidents involving an apparently 'new' legal high drug sold under the brand name 'Ivory Wave' (or in some areas 'Vanilla Sky'). Currently the incidence of emergency admissions to hospital is low and restricted to a few geographical locations around the UK.
The drug may be being marketed as 'bath salts' due to the mistaken belief on the part of vendors that this will exempt them from prosecution under drug or medicines legislation.
Today, Harry Shapiro, DrugScope's Director of Communications and Information, responded to the reports with this statement:
"While it has proved difficult to carry out much forensic testing on samples of 'Ivory Wave', of those tested, many have contained the active drug MDPV, along with cutting agents such as the common local anaesthetic Lidocaine.
"MDPV, chemical name Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (3,4-methylenedioxy) is a Class B drug. It is a cathinone derivative and was brought under the control of the Misuse of Drugs Act in April 2010 along with mephedrone and other related substances.
"Lidocaine is a common local anaesthetic frequently used as a cutting agent, to give users the numbing sensation in the mouth or nose which is associated with drugs of high purity (i. e. high-purity cocaine).
"MDPV is more potent than other cathinones, so users who may be used to taking mephedrone or other similar drugs may be increasing the risk to their health by taking too much, in the mistaken belief that it will behave the same. Using MDPV can lead to the overstimulation of both the cardiac system and the nervous system, causing heart problems, agitation, hallucinations and fits.
"However, all samples of 'Ivory Wave' may not contain MDPV; they may be mephedrone, another cathinone, or some other substance. The brand name can mask any number of different chemicals.
"The health risks are significant, as we have seen with the increase in emergency admissions to hospital by those under the effect of these drugs. Don't be fooled by the label: just because it's marketed as a 'legal high', doesn't mean it is and users caught in possession of these substances could face the same penalties as those for any Class B drugs."
DrugScope members are encouraged to be alert for users presenting with symptoms similar to amphetamines or Ecstasy-type drugs and to advise service users that 'Ivory Wave' may be markedly more potent than other drugs of its type.
The Government brought cathinones under the control of the Misuse of Drugs Act on 16 April 2010 and you can see the report of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommending this course of action here.
18 Aug 2010