Possible Bad Batch of NZ Ecstasy Hospitalises Thirteen

Testing shows a third of MDMA buyers have bought faulty drugs.

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Feb 26 2018, 11:12pm

Image: Shutterstock.com

Police are telling Christchurch partiers to destroy their E, after a possible bad batch of ecstasy sent 13 people to hospital.

The patients "arrived in an agitated state, with dangerously high blood pressure and an elevated high heart rate," Christchurch Hospital emergency department consultant Dr Suzanne Hamilton told Stuff.

Of the 13, the first 9 turned up at the emergency department over the weekend, and four more were hospitalised on Monday with similar symptoms. Christchurch hosted Electric Avenue music festival over the weekend - although it’s not yet clear whether the patients were festival-goers.

Hamilton said because the nine admissions occurred in quick succession, it could be one bad batch to blame.

"We want to warn the public of the risks of taking ecstasy and similar drugs, and that because of a possibly faulty batch, the risk in Christchurch at this particular time is greater than ever,” she said.

Last year, VICE reported the drug-testing results from New Zealand’s festival circuit. From those results, a full 30 percent of the drugs tested weren't what users thought they were taking.

The 2017 data showed the majority of people thought they had MDMA or LSD, with the largest chunk thinking they'd bought MDMA. Only about 70 percent of those who believed they had MDMA actually did. If their drugs weren't consistent with what they thought they had, the most common substitute was some variety of cathinone—known as 'bath salts'. New Zealand had its first recorded fatality from cathinone in 2016.

2017’s testing also showed two new, previously unseen varieties of cathinone—a development which testers described as "alarming". The test results also showed that NBOMe - a drug that killed three people and hospitalised 20 in Australia - was doing the rounds in the New Zealand market; as was n-ethylpentylone, associated with major health incidents in the UK.

READ MORE: These Are The Drugs Appearing at NZ Festivals.

It’s not yet known what substance the presumably-faulty MDMA may have been laced with.

A DHB statement advised that those who may have taken this batch may be agitated, with a racing heart beat or dangerously high blood pressure.

"Damage to the heart can be permanent and other effects of the drug can lead to longer term mental health problems," the statement

"Severe side-effects such as kidney failure, heart attacks and seizures may also occur."

The DHB advised anyone who had purchased MDMA to flush it.

As previously reported by VICE, drug testing in New Zealand currently exists in a kind of legal grey area - neither explicitly illegal, nor explicitly legal. Know Your Stuff NZ director Wendy Allison told VICE that currently, police were not overtly supporting drug testing at festivals, but they were using their discretion.

For more NZ drug reform coverage, follow Tess on Twitter.

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