DERBYSHIRE drug users are being warned about the dangers after a number of recreational drugs users have died in the county, 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 and 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.”
And Richard Martin, Assistance Director and Head of Substance Misuse at Derby City Council, added: “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.
“Users should be aware that the content of recreational drugs is uncertain and not clinically tested on rats let alone on people.”
• Greater Manchester Police are currently investigating after two people, believed to have taken Ecstasy tablets, died at the weekend.
A 28-year-old man died at Wigan Infirmary on January 21 and a 19-year-old man died at Oldham Hospital on January 20. Toxicology tests are due to take place to establish their cause of death.
Officers have now issued a warning over ecstasy tablets, heart shaped in purple, green, yellow and blue, and advised anyone who suffers adverse effects after taking one of the tablets to go to hospital for a check-up.