Drug users across Derbyshire are being warned about the dangers of ‘recreational’ substances after many people have died or 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 – which is chemically similar to the lethal and highly-addictive narcotic ‘crystal meth’ – 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.”