Party pill kits reveal deathly elements
SECRET pill testing at a Victorian music festival has uncovered drugs laced with a substance linked to nightclub deaths and overdoses.
More than 300 festivalgoers checked their pills at the January event’s illegal testing station. A sample revealed some of the pills were laced with para-Methoxyamphetamine, dubbed Dr Death.
Later laboratory tests of pills discarded by those concerned about the contents also detected the powerful hallucinogen, NBOMe.
The substance has been linked to three deaths and 20 hospital cases after a spate of overdoses along Chapel St.
Edith Cowan University academic Stephen Bright started the rogue testing tent, using publicly-available reagent kits, after being offered ecstasy that contained PMA.
He said 99 per cent of people binned their drugs when told they contained unknown substances.
“We went to the organisers and explained what had happened,” Dr Bright, who heads the university’s addiction studies course, said. “They didn’t want to see anybody die at the festival and gave us permission to set up a testing station out the back of a tent.”
Dr Bright said the results highlighted the need for sophisticated testing equipment, both on-site at music festivals and also at permanent locations in Australian capital cities.
Pill testing is common in Europe, including the Netherlands, where it has been credited with largely eradicating dangerous substances in pills.
Reason Party leader Fiona Patten called for pill testing to be trialled at a Victorian festival this summer.
But Acting Police Minister James Merlino ruled out a trial, with fears it could appear as an endorsement for drugs.
People caught handling drugs as part of pill testing can face criminal charges. “Our position on pill testing has not changed,” Mr Merlino said.