What’s in your pill?

Two people are in hospital after taking what has been described as ‘potentially lethal’ ecstasy at Fabric nightclub last weekend. This lethal batch is thought to be making its way around London.

These cases follow the deaths of five people in Scotland. Their deaths are thought to be attributed to a ‘lethal’ batch of ecstasy and led to calls for festival goers to beware at last months T in the Park Festival.

But what is so different about these batches?

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA is the chemical name for ecstasy. Pills taken recreationally are not 100% pure, they will have been cut with numerous other chemicals and sold as powder or pressed into pills. The pills are generally coloured or are stamped, which many attribute to a specific pill. The problem is, is that this is not always correct.

It has been found that in fact over the years the amount of MDMA in an ‘ecstasy’ pill has decreased and largely been replaced with ‘legal highs’. Mephedrone being one of the most popular replacements before its classification last year.

So why is this happening now?
Levels of MDMA are beginning to increase again, with the levels found in the Scottish batches reported to be up to 6 times stronger than expected. These increases mean users may think they are taking their ‘usual’ amount but are actually taking a lot more.

Batches found in other parts of the UK have been found to contain PMMA (paramethoxymethamphetamine) instead of MDMA. PMMA is not as strong as MDMA, leading users to take more in order to get the high but increasing their chance of overdose.

Currently one of the London clubbers is still in a critical condition.