After several deaths, poisonings and severe intoxications in several Melbourne (Australia) clubs in 15-17 January, we have received a sample of capsules sold as MDMA from Australia, related to these health problems.

The complete drug testing has revealed the composition of the sample:

4-FA (4-fluoroamphetamine): a psychoactive research chemical of the phenethylamine and substituted amphetamine chemical classes.

25C-NBOMe: a psychedelic drug and derivative of the psychedelic phenethylamine 2C-C. We have not been able to quantify the amount of this substance

MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) in a low dosage

4-FA can cause severe toxicity or death, but this facts are uncommon. Deaths caused by low dosages of MDMA are anecdotical. But NBMOEs family appeared around 2010 and are new substances with almost no experience in humans. According to available data, they are active at microgram dosage and can be very toxic or fatal with only a few miligrams, or if used by oral or intranasal route. Probably, combination of 4-FA with NBOMe and/or high dosage of this last one is the cause of severe toxicity.

It is likely that low MDMA dosages in this capsules was intentionally used to obtain a positive result in a qualitative, test reagent. But only a complete Drug Testing, as offered by our International Drug Service, can give more accurate information, that can be useful to protect users health.

We have been able to detect this potential Public Health problem thanks to the work of Stephanie Tzanetis, Monica Barratt, Bernie Maitri, Johnboy Davidson, Stephen Bright, Raimondo Bruno, the annonymous donor of the sample and team. We gave maximum priority to testing this sample for free. We remind that fee of our International Drug Testing Service barely covers costs of equipment and material, and most of our human resources are volunteer.

This case shows, once more, the usefulness and necessity of Drug Testing Programmes that can give a quick response to health hazards like this, in addition to an adequate financing and recognition by Public Authorities.

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