Party pill sparks official concern
Apr 7, 2006
Health officials have issued a warning about a so-called clinical drug trial being run by one of the big players in the party pill scene.
Ease is being sold on the internet - under the guise of a clinical trial - as a safe legal alternative for people using ecstasy.
But tests show the main ingredient is basically the same as in ecstasy, making it illegal to manufacture or sell.
"Because it's an analogue, which means it's similar too, it's covered by the act and there are quite severe penalties for this," says Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton.
The man selling Ease, Matt Bowden, says he stopped the trial once he realised health officials had a problem.
He says he has done nothing wrong and has acted in good faith. Bowden claims he got permission from the Ministry of Health to import the methylone.
But experts aren't just taking issue with the drug itself, they say Bowden should not be using the term "clinical trial" which implies it has been approved by medical experts as well as supervised and analysed by them.
Medical bioethics professor Grant Gillett says calling it a clinical trial is very misleading.
"The most uncharitable thought one might have is it's a kind of designer drug version of a Tupperware party," he says.
Bowden says he only ever sold to people on the trial and if he wanted to make money he would have sold it to everyone.
Jim Anderton is not convinced.
"We cannot countenance this kind of activity going on... I think it shows how quickly you can get into very difficult areas when you're playing around with so-called social or party drugs," says Anderton.
The pills are now with the drug squad while police investigate the matter.
Experts Advise on 'EASE'
Friday, 7 April 2006, 4:59 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Government Experts Advise on 'EASE'Jim Anderton, Associate Minister of Health and Chair of the Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy revealed today that he has received advice from the Chair of Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, that the substance methylone is an analogue of a Class B controlled drug and therefore is captured by the analogue provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act, which makes it an illegal substance.
“Methylone is a substance that occurs in a product called 'Ease' which came to my attention late last year as a product that is being promoted as part of a so- called “clinical trial” by a company called Stargate International,” Jim Anderton said.
The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) has tested a number of products found to contain methylone, and is of the view that this substance is an analogue of a Class B controlled drug called cathinone, and is therefore subject to the analogue provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
This ESR evidence was presented to the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) at its meeting last Thursday.
“It appears that 'Ease' is not the only product out there containing methylone, and I have asked for more information on these other products.
“The formal written report from the EACD is still to come, and although there has been considerable uncertainty around the legal status of this substance prior to these recent tests, Dr Ashley Bloomfield has told me today that the EACD agreed with the ESR conclusion that methylone is a controlled drug analogue.
"On this basis, the so-called “clinical trial” being conducted via the Stargate website might well be a breach of the Misuse of Drugs Act, and accordingly the Police have been informed,” Jim Anderton said.
Methylone... kind of designer drug version of a Tupperware party