Whilst an important drug alert on a potentially fatal legal high is issued, the drug is being readily sold on the Internet at £15 a pop
What a weird world this business of ‘legal highs’ – as Europol and the EMCDDA issue warnings about a potentially fatal legal high, it’s on special offer to buy on the web – £15 for 500mg, £18 (cut from £25) for 1g and £40 for 2g of the deadly powder, Serotoni, or 4.4′-DMAR.
Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) have issued early-warning notifications last week about two synthetic drugs that have recently been linked to serious harms in the EU.
The first concerns a new psychoactive substance (NPS) or ‘legal high’ associated with 18 deaths in the United Kingdom and eight in Hungary in 2013.
4,4′-DMAR — the para-methyl derivative of 4-methylaminorex — is not currently controlled by drug legislation in EU Member States. Also known as Serotoni, ‘4-methyl-euphoria’, ‘4-methyl-U4Euh’, ‘4-M-4-MAR’, ‘4,4-dimethylaminorex’, the substance has been found in Denmark, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom since it was first detected in 2012.
A range of adverse effects associated with 4,4’-DMAR have been reported, including agitation, hyperthermia, foaming at the mouth, breathing problems and cardiac arrest.
The use of other drugs in combination with 4,4’-DMAR appears to have been a factor in most of the fatalities recorded.
4,4’-DMAR has been found as a powder and in tablet form, with tablets having a variety of logos, colours and shapes, as detailed in the early-warning notification. Concern over this substance has led to the European Union Early-warning system (EWS) on new psychoactive substances — operated by the EMCDDA and Europol — to launch a joint exercise to better understand the harms posed by this substance.
Meanwhile, you can buy 4.4′-DMAR on the Net. Sites state ‘for research and not for human consumption’ presumably to avoid being sued by a victim’s relative.
The second warning focuses on ecstasy tablets that have been found with dangerously high levels of MDMA (ecstasy) in Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The potentially toxic levels of MDMA present in these tablets could lead to serious harm, and there have already been deaths associated with such tablets in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
MDMA tablets in the EU typically contain between about 60 and 100 mg of MDMA (2012 figures), however, tablets containing between 150 and up to 240 mg of MDMA are currently. Illicit drugs can often contain unexpected ingredients in unpredictable amounts.