Link to our Facebook
Link to our Instagram
Link to our TikTok

Three New Party Drugs Unearthed At Aussie Pill Testing Site

17 January 2024 | 2:37 pm | Jessie Lynch

"We don't know how it will affect people or what the health consequences are."


Drugs (Canva)

Australia's only fixed pill testing site, located at the CanTEST facility in Canberra, has uncovered three new recreational drugs, with one reportedly being similar to the potentially fatal “bath salts”.

The substances were discovered by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU), as the rest of the nation continues to debate the need for pill testing following deaths and hospitalisations at recent music festivals.

Professor Malcolm McLeod, leading the research at CanTEST, said there was uncertainty surrounding the potential effects and dangers of these new drugs.

"We don't know how it will affect people or what the health consequences are," Professor McLeod said, adding, "While derivatives of these stimulants first emerged in New Zealand in the early 2000s, we actually don't know a lot about them.”

McLeod revealed that the individual who initially submitted the first novel substance believed it to be a derivative of Ritalin, a drug commonly prescribed for ADHD treatment. However, upon testing, the substance turned out to be a new type of "cathinone or bath salts."

"Although there are a range of cathinone variants circulating in the community, finding a new one is obviously of concern because we don't know how it will affect people or what the health consequences are," said Professor McLeod, as per The Guardian.

In the case of the second substance, the user had presumed it to be similar to Ketamine, but subsequent testing revealed it to be a novel benzylpiperazine (BZP) stimulant.

The third novel drug presented at CanTEST by an uncertain individual was later identified as a new phenethylamine drug known as propylphenidine. Professor McLeod clarified, "Phenethylamines are a category of stimulant drugs that includes amphetamine, methamphetamine, and MDMA."

The discoveries come amid a broader discourse in Australia about implementing pill testing at music festivals and events. The need for increased harm minimisation strategies, such as pill testing, continues to gain traction in the wake of several overdose incidents at summer music festivals.

Plug into the latest music with our FREE weekly newsletter

While advocates acknowledge that pill testing is not a total solution, they argue that it significantly contributes to harm reduction by enabling individuals to discard potentially lethal substances.

ACT Population Health Minister Emma Davidson highlighted the importance of providing Australians with access to the right support and services, including pill testing, to make safer choices.

"People take drugs and it is a health issue. Australians cannot make safer choices unless they have access to the right support and services such as pill testing," she told AAP.

"A national network will mean greater access for people to pill test and help minimise harm to the individual and their community."

Since its opening in July 2022, The CanTEST facility in Canberra has played a crucial role in identifying new and potentially harmful substances, including in October 2022, when the site discovered a previously unseen ketamine-like drug.

One out of every ten samples was discarded once individuals learned about the drug's contents in the first six months of the testing facility opening, with Davidson noting that nearly one in five individuals now choose to discard their drugs at the clinic.