Last week an inquest heard how a 9-year-old-girl discovered both of her parents had died after accidentally overdosing on the latest party drug – Dr Death. Earlier this year, the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths raised concerns regarding Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) being sold in pill form as ecstasy.
Dr Death is an amphetamine sold in tablet form and is likened to MDMA – the active component of ecstasy. The pills are often sold by dealers as ecstasy, even though it is actually more toxic and can kill at lower doses.
The pill itself is sometimes stamped with an M or a crown and may be pink. Its appearance resembles ecstasy, making it easy for the user to mistake the two drugs. Other names for the drug include Pink Mitsubishi, Pink McDonalds, Pink Ecstasy, Chicken Fever and Killer.
The user will feel a buzz, making colours and sounds feel more intense. They may also feel ‘in love’ with those around them. A key difference between the highs however is that ecstasy kicks in after around 20 minutes, while Dr Death can take up to an hour to start working. Because of this delayed reaction, some users fatally up their dose.
This makes overdosing the most significant risk for users. It takes as little as 60mg (around a quarter of a tablet) to raise blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. The effects on the body’s temperature can cause users to overheat.
Harry Sumnall, professor in substance use at the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University explains further:
“It also prevents the reuptake of serotonin back into neurons and inhibits the enzymes which are responsible for the breakdown of serotonin. This increase in serotonin, especially when PMA is taken in combination with other drugs, can lead to hyperthermia and subsequently, organ failure. Basically people are overheating and collapsing.”
The drug has been categorised as a class A drug, meaning that possessing and dealing the drug can lead to a prison sentence.