HEALTH workers will hit Tyneside’s nightlife this weekend to warn revellers about a potentially fatal batch of ecstasy pills sweeping the region.
Teams of specialist NHS workers will be dispatched to pubs and clubs around South Shields on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
It follows an incident in which three people were left fighting for their lives in hospital after taking the tablets at an unknown location in South Tyneside on Saturday night.
After forensic tests, the pills have today been identified as the party drug ecstasy, but they contain another unknown substance, which is believed to have caused the life-threatening symptoms.
Seven people, all from South Tyneside, have so far been arrested in connection with the drugs. Four were bailed on Sunday and the remaining three were bailed yesterday while the investigation continues.
And, as fears grow that the drugs could have spread around the region, health chiefs today issued a stern warning about the dangers of taking illegal drugs.
Janice Chandler, joint commissioning manager at NHS South of Tyne and Wear, which covers South Tyneside Primary Care Trust, said: “All drugs carry risks but impurities in drugs can make them even more dangerous.
“Other substances in drugs can change the effect the drugs have, which can leave the user disorientated and they may panic and be more likely to be involved in accidents.
“Similarly, taking what you think is one type of drug and finding that it is another, with possibly very different effects, can be disturbing.
“Impurities in drugs can also sometimes be dangerous to consume in themselves.
“Anyone who may be thinking of taking illegal drugs should be aware of this increased risk and be very cautious.
“Even if you think it is a particular drug you may have no idea how strong the dose is, whether it also contains another drug or other substances. It can obviously be dangerous to take something that you are not sure about.”
Five people were taken to South Tyneside District Hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning, with three suffering from life-threatening symptoms.
All five have since recovered.
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said today: “The drugs are ecstasy-based, but contain another unknown substance.”
Det Chief Insp Peter Bent added: “We have seized a quantity of tablets which we think are the dangerous drug that is in circulation, which caused several people to be seriously ill over the weekend.
“If anyone has bought drugs which look like this, or is offered them for sale, I would strongly advise them not to take them.
“They could have very dangerous, and even potentially fatal consequences.”
Anyone with any information should contact Northumbria Police on 03456 043 043, or call Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Dec 14 2010
by Andy Hughes
While the published story wasn't clear the tag on the photo seems to indicate it is one of the suspectpills