[h1]Illegal drug found in party pills [/h1] The Press | Monday, 16 July 2007
Illegal drugs such as ecstasy have been discovered in party pills, New Zealand scientists have found.
Analysis of party pills also shows that the dosage levels of active ingredients vary hugely.
In the past year, the drugs laboratory at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research analysed 41 types of party pills available in New Zealand, all submitted by law enforcement agencies.
In tablets where the main active drugs were BZP (benzylpiperazine) or TFMPP (trifluoromethyl phenylpiperazine) – the legal party pill ingredients – the dose per tablet ranged from only 26mg to as much as 236mg.
Two of the tablets analysed contained MDMA, or ecstasy, and five other tablets contained illegal amphetamine-type drugs.
One tablet contained the anaesthetic drug ketamine.
Several contained additional active ingredients, and one a total of seven drugs.
ESR forensic programme manager Dr Keith Bedford said the analysis revealed an increasing blurring of the lines between legal and illegal drugs for sale in New Zealand.
"In the past there was a strong demarcation, but now it appears that consumers could inadvertently end up taking an illegal drug while taking party pills."
The extreme variation of dosage was also of concern, Bedford said.
He noted there was no evidence of illegal substances in any party pills containing BZP being marketed by legitimate businesses.
A second ESR study is looking at how party pills are metabolised, over what time period and with what effects.
ESR scientist Dr Paul Fitzmaurice said although party pill packaging contained information about appropriate dosage and time-frame, it was based on little scientific evidence.
Emergency-room admissions were most likely related to users not understanding what the drugs did and how to use them appropriately.
A third study investigating the effects of BZP on the brain had a wider aim to unravel the common processes occurring in drug addiction generally, he said.
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