Victorian coroner, Paresa Spanos, has recommended the state government urgently introduce drug testing for the first time, after the deaths of five young men who thought they were taking MDMA.
The men, who were between the ages of 17 and 32, died in five separate incidents between 2016 and 2017 after ingesting what contained a dangerous combination of two new psychoactive substances – 25C-NBOMe and 4-Fluoroamphetamine.
A 2020 inquest into the men’s deaths found each of the men acted erratically after taking the drugs, including headbutting walls and furniture, and experienced hallucinations and paranoia.
One of the men leapt to his death from a 10th floor balcony at his Melbourne CBD apartment.
On Wednesday, Ms Spanos called for the Victorian Department of Health to urgently introduce a public drug-checking service where samples of illicit drugs could be rapidly analysed for content and purity.
“For as long as illicit drug use exists in the community, Victorians will continue to be exposed to the risks of unregulated drug markets,” Ms Spanos said.
“The successful operation of drug early warning systems internationally, coupled with submissions from those working in harm minimisation, demonstrated that these evidence-based interventions could save lives.”
She noted models for drug-checking or pill-testing services included ones where people who had bought drugs submitted them for testing in person, through the mail or with a secure drop box.
“In some models, the results of analysis are provided back to the person who submitted the drug, together with tailored education on risks of consumption and strategies to manage these risks,” Ms Spanos said.
Ms Spanos’ suggestion follows the NSW coroner recommending pill testing be conducted in NSW in 2019 after an inquest into the drug-related deaths of six young people aged 18 to 23 at music festivals over two summers.
Source: ABC News.