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Ecstasy laced with PMMA in Canada overdose deaths, officials find

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    The street drug ecstasy that was responsible for five recent Calgary-area overdose deaths was laced with other, more potent compounds, according to toxicology results.

    Paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) and methamphetamine were present in the lab results for each of the recent deaths, the chief medical examiner's office said.

    Officials believe each of the overdose victims thought they were taking straight ecstasy (MDMA).

    “This is a prime example of the gamble people take when they use illegal drugs,” said Calgary police drug unit staff Sgt. Mike Bossley.

    “You never know what is in your drug: yesterday it was MDMA, today it’s PMMA, and tomorrow it could be something else. There is no safe street drug, and no safe dose of a street drug,” he said.

    Dr. Mark Yarema, medical director of the province’s Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) said while they can look similar, there are important differences between ecstasy and methamphetamine.

    “Although all have toxic effects, PMMA is considered more toxic than MDMA, with a higher incidence of seizures and elevated body temperature.”

    Methamphetamine can also be slower to act, prompting users to take several tablets to get the desired effect, he said.

    Police are still investigating the source of the drugs taken in each of the deaths. The names of the victims are not being released for privacy reasons.

    CBC News
    Jan 11, 2012



  1. voiceduck
    I've fell victim to PMA (very similar to PMMA) and it's horrible... legalize MDMA and its not a problem... simple.
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    B.C. to review 16 deaths after tainted ecstasy proves lethal

    VANCOUVER -- At least one of the Lower Mainland’s recent ecstasy deaths is linked to the same toxic chemical found in a batch of the drug that killed five in Calgary, B.C.’s provincial health officer confirmed Thursday.

    “There has been one confirmed [paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA)]-associated death in the Lower Mainland recently, and I think there are indications of a couple of others,” Dr. Perry Kendall said in a conference call with media on Thursday afternoon.

    Kendall could not comment specifically on which ecstasy-related death he was referring to, noting the B.C. Coroners Service would release that information soon.

    Meanwhile, the BCCS will also review the rest of the province’s 16 ecstasy-related deaths in 2011 to determine whether PMMA was present, as it is not routinely tested for, Kendall said.

    Unlike MDMA — pure ecstasy — PMMA has a slower and milder onset of its effects.

    “[Users] start taking more pills because they think they got lower doses and they end up with much more significant overdoses,” Kendall said.

    He noted it [PMMA] also “significantly interferes” with the brain, which can cause the user’s body temperature to rise.

    “Once you get to 104, 105 degrees, you can get irreversible brain and organ damage,” Kendall said.

    PMMA is about five times more toxic than MDMA ecstasy.

    Among those waiting for answers about MDMA-related deaths in B.C. are the parents of Tyler Miller, 20, of Abbotsford, who died after taking the drug on Nov. 27, 2011.

    “He had all the info from us; he knew all the facts,” said Tyler’s father, Russ Miller. “But it’s the adage at that age: Nothing touches you. You’re bulletproof.”

    Miller and his wife, Laurie Mossey, a youth drug and addictions worker, had previously found an open Facebook page where Tyler and his friends were talking about the drug. They made him attend drug counselling sessions for six weeks and when he passed a random drug test some months later they thought he had put it behind him.

    “Don’t trust everything you’re told,” Miller cautioned parents. “You want to double-check and then triple-check. Being a little nosy but having them there for the rest of your life? I’d rather be a little nosy.

    “Even that’s not going to guarantee a sure thing, but at that point you’ve done what you can.”

    Miller describes their only child as an aspiring musician and straight-A student, not a partier or troubled youth.

    “From the texts and stuff afterwards it sounded like basically there were four guys [including Miller] and they lined up to make a purchase for four [ecstasy pills],” Miller said. “If I could channel him, the only thing I think possibly going through his head was, ‘It’s only the big time druggies that take too much. Everybody’s taking a pill. It’s just one pill.’”

    That one pill caused Tyler to overheat, start panicking and eventually lose consciousness. His friends — some high on ecstasy — gave him a bag of frozen peas to help cool him down, and, after about half an hour, rushed him to a hospital, Miller said.

    Three other people in the Lower Mainland have died from reactions to ecstasy in recent weeks: a 17-year-old girl from Abbotsford; a 22-year-old Vancouver woman who took the drug at a house party; and another 22-year-old Vancouver woman who was hospitalized after taking ecstasy on New Year’s Eve and died last Friday.

    As well, a 24-year-old Abbotsford woman who took the drug Jan. 2 remains in critical condition.

    Owen Court, regional coroner for the Vancouver-Metro region said on Wednesday he expected to have toxicology results from the two Vancouver cases today.

    In Alberta, the chief medical examiner confirmed Wednesday that five recent Calgary-area ecstasy deaths were linked to PMMA.

    More than three-quarters of the ecstasy tested by RCMP over the years has been contaminated with a “variety of substances,” Kendall said. These include ephedrine, caffeine, methamphetamine, ketamine (an anesthetic) and PCP (an animal tranquillizer).

    Benedikt Fischer, a professor of public health at Simon Fraser University, said “prohibition enforcement” is simply not enough to prevent harm and death from illicit drugs.

    “These are illegal products, traded and made available in a black market,” he said. “There is no quality control, unlike alcohol in a liquor store.

    “Even if we don’t legally sell [illicit drugs] in the pharmacy, we could, for example, allow people to bring ecstasy to a drug-testing facility where they could do quality testing ... so that people would know ‘Am I taking something contaminated? Is it laced? What did I buy and what will I put into my body?’ This is what’s been done in Europe for a while.”

    Kendall said the best advice is to avoid illicit pills.

    “If you still feel that you have to take these pills, never take more than one,” he said. “Have a sober person with you, who, if you show signs of overdose or toxicity, loss of consciousness, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, convulsions, twitching, et cetera, can seek help immediately.”

    Miller and Mossey have set up a bursary in Tyler’s memory for troubled youth at the Cyrus Centre in Abbotsford..

    JANUARY 12, 2012

  3. Terrapinzflyer
    Five B.C. deaths linked to lethal chemical PMMA

    METRO VANCOUVER -- Five British Columbians have died from ecstasy laced with the lethal chemical PMMA since last August, B.C’s chief coroner announced Friday, after a review of the province’s last 18 ecstasy-related deaths.

    Lisa Lapointe said after reviewing the 16 ecstasy-related deaths in 2011 and two so far in 2012 it was determined that the three men and two women — ranging in age from 14 to 37 — died from taking MDMA pills laced with the same chemical linked to a spate of recent deaths in the Calgary area. Three of the deaths occurred in the Lower Mainland, and two on Vancouver Island.

    “PMMA is a rare drug, it’s something that we haven’t seen before in relation to ecstasy-related deaths,” Lapointe said during a media conference call this afternoon. “As with MDMA, there’s no known safe dose of PMMA.”

    As a result of the review PMMA has been added to the list of chemicals that a coroner screens for in B.C. when conducting a toxicology report.

    “We’ve always known that ecstasy tablets — while they do include MDMA — could include a variety of things,” Lapointe said.

    In four of the five PMMA-related deaths one or more other substances such as alcohol, marijuana and cocaine were present said Lapointe, who added that amounts of these substances are found in most ecstasy-related deaths.

    It would cost too much money to review ecstasy-related deaths for PMMA from years before 2010, Lapointe said.

    PMMA (para-Methoxymethamphetamine) is about five times more toxic than MDMA or pure ecstasy. Though it is much more toxic than MDMA, PMMA has a slower and milder onset of its effects.

    “[Users] start taking more pills because they think they got lower doses and they end up with much more significant overdoses,” B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall said Thursday afternoon.

    He noted PMMA “significantly interferes” with the brain, which can cause the user’s body temperature to rise.

    “Once you get to 104, 105 degrees, you can get irreversible brain and organ damage,” Kendall said.

    In 2006 seven British Columbians died from ecstasy-related deaths. That number jumped to 12 in 2007, then 23 in 2008, 21 in 2009, and 20 in 2010, according to Lapointe.

    Several police agencies have pills sold as ecstasy that were voluntarily forwarded to them recently and may contain the lethal MDMA/PMMA mix. However, authorities don’t want to make pictures of the pills available to the public, Lapointe said.

    Tyler Miller, 20, of Abbotsford died from a PMMA-laced pill on Nov. 27, 2011 his father Russ Miller confirmed today.

    “Don’t trust everything you’re told,” Miller cautioned parents. “You want to double-check and then triple-check. Being a little nosy but having them there for the rest of your life? I’d rather be a little nosy.

    “Even that’s not going to guarantee a sure thing, but at that point you’ve done what you can.”

    A 24-year-old Abbotsford woman who took the drug at New Year’s is no longer in critical condition but remains in intensive care, Const. Ian MacDonald of the Abbotsford Police said Friday. It is not known if the pills she took contained PMMA.

    MacDonald said that police are only interested in arresting the suppliers of the drug.

    “If [ecstasy users] want to turn their pills over to us for testing purposes or they simply want to turn them over for disposal we’d be very happy to oblige,” MacDonald said. “But we’re not after the users. We want to work with them to keep them safe.”

    JANUARY 13, 2012

  4. Liltony420
    So glad I can get pure powder. I rolled the dice once and got pills, luckily they were just pure meth. Its kinda scary when there is worse stuff you can get in your pills than meth. I stayed away from M after I got the meth pills but after finding a pure powder supplier I have refound my love for MDMA, the stim that helps you sleep.
  5. jejune
    B.C. police reluctant to release deadly ecstasy pill markings

    The Canadian Press

    Updated: Sat. Jan. 14 2012 7:40 AM ET

    VANCOUVER — Police in B.C. are reluctant to tell the public what unique markings are on ecstasy pills suspected to contain a lethal additive linked to five deaths in the province.

    That's because they don't want users thinking they're sanctioning the rest of the pills.

    Toxicology reviews of 18 deaths related to the party drug since the start of 2011 found the additive PMMA present in the systems of three men and two women. The drug is also linked to five recent deaths in Calgary.

    B.C.'s chief coroner says police agencies have decided against putting photos of the drug online.

    Lisa Lapointe says authorities want people to know that at any ecstasy tablet can be contaminated with anything.

    PMMA is considered several times more toxic than ecstasy's usual ingredient and can heat up the body to the point of severe brain and organ damage or death.

    The drug has also been linked to five recent deaths in Calgary.
  6. KaleidoscopeEyes
    From my little bit of research PMMA requires a Mandelin test for detection.

    Also on another forum a poster was saying he was there at one of the parties when a girl died and that it wasn't presses it was 'pure' powder. hough that anecdotal evidence by the poster could be false.

    Scary shit.
    Please discourage your friends from doing multiple pills too. Especially with new shit.
  7. brendog
    Tainted ecstasy linked to five Calgary deaths could be from B.C.

    VANCOUVER — A batch of ecstasy believed to be behind a spate of recent deaths in Calgary may have been tainted with a lethal chemical never before found in the street drug, according Alberta’s chief medical examiner.

    Police in B.C. are wondering whether the same chemical is popping up here and if it is to blame for several ecstasy-related deaths in recent weeks.

    Const. Ian MacDonald of the Abbotsford police department said there is no way to know until toxicology reports are released.

    “We are keeping an eye on what is transpiring in Alberta and specifically in the Calgary region, but we can’t make as definitive statements as Calgary has because we just don’t have the benefit of the toxicology results yet,” MacDonald said.

    “I know that the coroner’s office and other provincial officials [in B.C.] were certainly looking to expedite [the lab tests] in light of the rash of the apparent ecstasy overdoses.”

    On Wednesday, Alberta’s chief medical examiner confirmed “paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) and methamphetamine — not previously associated with street drugs sold in Calgary as ‘ecstasy’ — was present in toxicology results for each of five recent Calgary-area street-drug deaths,” according to a news release issued by Alberta Health Services.

    “It was reported that each of the recent overdose victims thought they were ingesting ecstasy (MDMA), not PMMA or methamphetamine,” the news release stated.

    MDMA was also found in the victims’ systems.

    The new compound is believed to be five times more toxic than traditional ecstasy, health officials said.

    What we’re finding in this case is that people were getting something very different than what they thought they were,” said Dr. Mark Yarema, medical director for the Poison and Drug Information Service and Calgary emergency room physician.

    Three people in B.C.’s Lower Mainland have died from reactions to ecstasy in recent weeks: a 17-year-old girl from Abbotsford; a 22-year-old Vancouver woman who took the drug at a house party; and another 22-year-old Vancouver woman who was hospitalized after taking ecstasy on New Year’s Eve and died on Friday.

    As well, a 24-year-old Abbotsford woman who took the drug Jan. 2 remains in critical condition.

    The majority of ecstasy found in Calgary originates from B.C.’s Lower Mainland, according to Calgary police.

    Toxicology results typically take between two and three weeks in B.C., where there is only one toxicology lab used by the coroners service.

    Owen Court, regional coroner for the Vancouver-Metro region, said he expects results from the two Vancouver deaths by Friday.

    Court said the local lab learned of Calgary’s PMMA-tainted ecstasy late Wednesday and noted he would be looking into the matter on Thursday.

    It is not something that immediately comes to mind as having been linked to past drug-related deaths, he said.

    “PMMA is not something that I am immediately familiar with,” Court said. “I hope to have some discussion with our laboratory about that and get a more informed opinion from a toxicologist.”

    The B.C. Coroners Service has reported 10 to 24 ecstasy-related deaths per year from 2007 to 2010, according to Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.’s chief medical health officer.

    Canada has been a hotbed for producing ecstasy in past years because it was easier here than in the U.S. to access the precursor chemicals, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, said Sgt. Duncan Pound of the RCMP’s drug enforcement division.

    However, a recent amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act now makes it a crime to possess the tools of synthetic drug production.
  8. Terrapinzflyer
    From following this story a few points are emerging:

    1) there are at least 2 (and presumably more) distinct batches/sources

    2) Indications are that this is not just "ecstasy" pills- but "molly" or powder from as well

    3) They are now tracking deaths back all the way to last July. Current total is 25 deaths.

    4)Evidence suggesting the tainted ecstasy may be in worldwide distribution
  9. trdofbeingtrd
    So they won't release pictures of the pills.......most likely because they can keep people from wanting to do any "extacy". In a small way this makes sense, if someone is not doing any pills, they won't get these bad one's.

    However, if they showed pictures of the pills, people would have a VERY good idea of what not to take, this would save far more lives than the "don't take anything or you can die" method, at least to me.
  10. Terrapinzflyer
    ^^ While I think their reasons are varied (I have seen a quote from a RCMP officer essentially saying "we don't want to be seen condoning use of other ecstasy pills as safe", I think their rasoning is much in line with why we prohibit "ecstasy pill id" threads. Stamps are often copied (I can think of at least a dozen common "stamps" that come from different producers and one would need to be VERY knowledgeable to tell the diference), then add to this the fact that single producers often produce many pills with vrying ingredients but with the same die. And of course- quite often they only have toxicological results, and at best have hearsay evidence of what pill might have been consumed, coupled with the fact that there appears to be powdered "mdma" circulating that contains PMMA, and quite likely stamped pills they are yet unaware of. (I mean really- do you want to say "these two stamps are deadly" then have a rash of people drop dead from another, yet unidentified stamp?)

    Prohibition plays a major role in this, as does the greed and indifference of producers. One of the stories getting a lot of play in the Canadian press is an alleged player in the "ecstasy" game saying that they frequently produce "ecstasy" pills of a mish-mash of ingredients and then go feed them to addicts on Vancouvers east side- and if they vanish they know they they have a bad batch, if they come back then they start exporting them.

    In many ways I think the RCMP is caught in the middle of this mess, with no right answer.
  11. rogerisme
    Two more OD on E

    Two young women were in a Calgary hospital Saturday, one clinging to life, after overdoses on the notorious and often-deadly drug ecstasy.

    These latest overdoses come a day after police revealed they are probing a sixth death tied to e containing the deadly PMMA chemical.

    Insp. Chris Butler said a 911 call alerted authorities to a downtown hotel about 6:30 a.m., where an unconscious woman in her 20s was taken to Foothills hospital along with another woman, also in her 20s, who was not in medical distress.

    The pair, who are from the Edmonton area, were said to be at a Red Mile bar prior to the 911 call.

    Soon after, the first woman was fighting for her life in ICU. An update provided by police early Sunday morning stated she has been upgraded to serious, but stable condition.

    The other woman went into medical distress, but she was in stable condition Saturday night and police say she has since been released.

    Both had taken ecstasy they purchased in Calgary, police now confirm.

    With dangers of ecstasy being so high-profile and “endless public warnings,” he said it is disappointing to learn ecstasy is again the likely culprit in these latest cases.

    “Ultimately, people are responsible for their own actions … people might as well go under the kitchen sink and start drinking Draino and taking any other number of chemicals,” Butler said.

    “They have no idea what they are taking … people just continue to die. It seems they are more willing to accept the risk of dying for the sake of having some sort of high.”

    Police are uncertain if it is a single or numerous sources which led to the overdoses and there is only so far they can go to prevent more.

    “There is so much of this drug out there it is extremely difficult to try to stop the drug flow,” Butler said.

    “So what has to happen, is people have to be responsible for their own behaviour.

    Taking ecstasy they are, sadly, “accepting the possible outcome of … dying,” he said.

    In November, 16-year-old Alex Kristof died after taking ecstasy, about a month before an 18 and 25-year-old died after overdosing on it.

    Days later, police were investigating another apparent ecstasy overdose after a man in his 20s died.

    As the number of fatalities has increased, six between July and December, police have been training to look for signs of PMMA when dealing with natural death investigations.

    Stressing personal responsibility, Butler had harsh words for drug dealers.

    “The bottom line is they are peddling these type of drugs into society with no care of the consequences, their concern is making money,” he said.

    “All drug dealers are completely morally bankrupt — heroin killed people, PCP killed people, now ecstasy with PMMA is killing people … it’s not like, suddenly, illicit drugs are killing people.”

    A 43-year-old man died in July 2011, but it was only this week when authorities uncovered he had ingested ecstasy made with PMMA, a toxic chemical said to be a cheaper additive in the production of synthetic drugs known as ecstasy.

    Investigators are also awaiting results of toxicology tests on a seventh case after a man died from a suspected overdose recently.


  12. KaleidoscopeEyes
    Thanks for the uPdates Terrapin. I'm intensely interested in this. It's so sad.

    Anyone know how to test for PMMA? The MDMA color change in tests might overpower a test as they are reporting some of the deceased also had MDMA in their systems.

    I read somewhere recently that PMMA and MDMA is a deadly combo?

    Also, I wonder how many of the victims may have been on antidepressants or MAOI inhibitors.
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