Posted on 17th January 2013
Community Safety and Public Health partnerships are warning drug users after a number of Derbyshire users of ‘recreational’ drugs have died and more have been hospitalised.
Seizures of drugs throughout Derbyshire have shown that what a person thinks they have bought is often not the drug that has been sold to them.
Toxicology tests have shown that PMA paramethoxymethyamphetamine, or para-methoxymethyamphetamine has been a significant factor in these deaths although inquests have not yet been held.
PMA is often being sold as Ecstasy but it is much stronger and far more toxic. Locally it has also been sold as amphetamine powder. PMA has been referred to as ‘pink ecstasy’, ‘Dr Death’ or ‘Pink McDonalds’.
PMA has also been linked to deaths throughout Europe as well as in other parts of the UK.
Mick Burrows, Derbyshire County Council’s senior public health commissioning manager, said: “It takes time for PMA to work which sometimes leads users to re-dose or take other drugs on top. Death can occur when a user believes they are consuming recreational doses of MDMA, when they are, in fact, consuming a lethal dose of another substance with similar effects.
“PMA is of particular concern because it can quickly reach toxic levels on its own but if combined with other drugs, like MDMA, it can trigger fatal central nervous system responses. Users may become really hot, experience seizures, fast heartbeat, shock, and go into kidney failure.
“In overdose, time is precious and so it is vital that an ambulance is called straight away and if PMA is even suspected this information should be given to the crew. The police will not attend any incident where a person has collapsed after taking drugs.
“Remember it is far better to get treatment quickly than to panic and abandon a person in overdose or waste time attempting local treatment.”
Richard Martin, Assistant Director and Head of Substance Misuse at Derby City Council, added: “If users wish to take such drugs they should not mix them with any other substance especially alcohol. Take a small amount and wait for at least an hour and a half to assess the effect before taking more.
“Many people have bought what they think are ‘legal’ substances only to find that they contain a mixture of illegal substances.
“The vast majority of ‘Ecstasy’ tablets do not contain MDMA, but contain a combination of other substances, including PMA and methoxetamine.
“Many drugs come in the form of a white powder and this allows unscrupulous drug suppliers to sell whatever they have available as the drug that they think will make them the most profit. We have even had a case where heroin was sold to users as cocaine.
“Users should be aware that the content of recreational drugs is uncertain and not clinically tested on rats let alone on people.”