October 6, 2008

Recall for Party Pills; Experts Check ‘Geranium Oil’ Component


PARTY pill retailers are being asked to stop selling some new generation pills following tests of a commonly found chemical in the drugs that has left some users sick.

The Health Ministry has instructed health boards to recall party drugs that contain the powdered form of DMAA. Labels on party pills commonly refer to DMAA as "geranium oil".

The ministry's recall notice follows concern that pill makers have simply swapped BZP -- which was banned six months ago -- for DMAA.

The substance has been described as the main "chemical that gives many of the new party pills their kick". It can also be found in some body-building supplements.

DMAA stands for 1,3 dimethylamylamine, which health officials have blamed for putting four users in Waikato Hospital last month.

Party pill brands, such as Sunrise, are marketed as containing 99.9 per cent DMAA.

The substance is not a banned or controlled substance, but that is likely to be discussed by the Government's expert drug advisory committee at a meeting next month.

Though the ministry did not consider DMAA a "significant public health risk", it was concerned after the Waikato cases, a spokeswoman said.

A Waikato District Health Board spokeswoman said its medical officer of health, Dell Hood, alerted the ministry after four Thames users suffered an extreme reaction to the substance.

The Dominion Post first reported in May that some new generation pill users had been admitted to Wellington Hospital with "semi- hysterical type reactions".

The ministry ordered Environmental Science and Research to test the new pills following April's BZP ban, which it said yesterday had tentatively identified DMAA as an active ingredient. ESR was, however, still awaiting an international authenticated reference standard before it could formally identify the substance.

Drug Foundation director Ross Bell said the situation was no surprise as manufacturers were always going to come up with an alternative to BZP, particularly with such a lucrative market.

"Chemists and party pill makers will always stay ahead of the regulators."

Users needed good public health information as they could not rely on manufacturers' claims, he said.

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