Deadly MDMA pills containing twice the average dose are circulating in one Australian state as officials issue an urgent warning as party season kicks off.
NSW Health said three types of MDMA tablets are being sold throughout the state, some with a dangerous concoction of other drugs.
The flagged pills include a blue diamond-shaped pill stamped with a Marvel Comics Character ‘Punisher’, a yellow pill stamped with the cartoon character Spongebob and a blue skull tablet stamped with a ‘MYBRAND’ logo.
The Punisher and MYBRAND pills both contain 216mg of ketamine, while the Spongebob pills contain 160mg.
Some of the MDMA tablets contain a dangerous combination of other drugs like cathinones, ketamine and ketamine analogues.
Medical Director of the NSW Poisons Information Centre, Dr Darren Roberts, said high doses of ketamine had been linked to recent deaths in NSW.
‘MDMA can cause severe agitation, raised body temperature, seizures or fits, irregular heart rhythm and death,’ Dr Roberts said.
‘The amount of MDMA in a tablet or capsule can vary a lot, even within the same batch. The health risks from MDMA are greatly increased if high amounts (including multiple doses) are consumed over a short period.’
Deadly MDMA pills containing twice the average dose are circulating in one Australian state as officials issue an urgent warning as party season kicks off (pictured, officers at a festival)
NSW Health said three types of MDMA tablets are being sold throughout the state, some with a dangerous concoction of other drugs
The medical director said the MDMA was even more dangerous when mixed with other stimulants such as amphetamines, cocaine or cathinones.
Dr Roberts warned those attending music festivals this summer to take regular breaks as MDMA can cause the body to overheat.
‘Taking a break from dancing, seeking shade, and drinking water are important measures to reduce the risk of overheating,’ he said.
‘It is very important to remember, if you or a friend has taken drugs and feel unwell, you won’t get into trouble for seeking medical care.’
The warning comes after two men, aged 21 and 26, died of suspected overdoses after attending Knockout festival at Sydney Olympic Park on October 2.
Nine other festival-goers were taken to hospital.
Up to 27 people at the Knockout festival were charged with drug possession, while four were charged with drug supply.
Police said one 21-year-old man had up to 491 MDMA pills in his possession.
Some of the MDMA tablets contain a dangerous combination of other drugs like cathinones, ketamine and ketamine analogues (pictured, revellers at Field Day festival in Sydney)
Those attending music festivals this summer have been urged to take regular breaks as MDMA can cause the body to overheat (stock image)
In the same month, 85 people attending Listen Out festival in Sydney’s Centennial Park were charged with drug possession and eight people with drug supply.
The charges come despite amnesty bins being set up at festivals for revellers to discard drugs without the fear of being arrested.
The policy was introduced as a recommendation of a coronial inquest handed down in 2020 into the deaths of six young people at music festivals in NSW between December 2017 and January 2019.
Alex Ross-King, 19, Joshua Tam, 22, Callum Brosnan, 21, Diana Nguyen, 21, Joseph Pham, 23 all died at festivals after taking MDMA or ecstasy.
Five of the six festival goers also had other illegal substances in their system.
The inquest also recommended other strategies including pill testing, scrapping the use of sniffer dogs and reducing the number of strip searches.
However, the NSW government is yet to adopt the recommendations.