HSE warning over head shop product
Forty reports of severe adverse reactions to a new head shop substance called “Whack” have been received by the National Poisons Information Centre in the past 10 days.
The HSE tonight said users of the product had suffered a range of symptoms including increased heart and breathing rates, raised blood pressure and anxiety.
At least seven of those treated experienced psychotic episodes which the HSE said was severe and proving difficult to treat.
The majority of those affected were young men in their twenties, almost half of which presented in the mid-Western region.
The Government last month introduced a twofold strategy to limit the range of products available from head shops.
The policy involved an updated list of banned drugs with sentences ranging as high as seven years to life for possession and supply, and fresh legislation to prevent the sale of other, newly-created substances invented to get around existing laws.
Among the substances banned were synthetic cannabinoids, BZP derivatives and mephedrone. Gardaí said that of the 102 head shops that were open before May 11th, about 36 continue to trade and are being monitored.
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern last week said head shops would be put out of business for good under the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill.
The HSE tonight said people should not “try this dangerous drug or other similar substances as the effect on an individual can impact significantly on one's health”.
Fine Gael health spokesman Dr James Reilly said the Government’s “piecemeal approach” to the problem of head shop drugs continued to leave people’s health in danger.
“I have been calling from some time to action from the Government to stop these drugs before they hit the shelves by insisting on Food Safety Authority of Ireland or Irish Medicines Board approval of any item for consumption,” he said.
“It is not good enough for the HSE to advise people not to take the drug. It is high time the Government got its act together on a co-ordinated action to ensure they are not available.”
Wednesday, June 9, 2010,
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