Three overdose on tablets sold as MDMA but were actually potent opioid

Three overdose on tablets sold as MDMA but were actually potent opioid
Image: Flavio Brancaleone, AAP Image



Three people in Sydney were hospitalised after taking pills that they believed to be MDMA but actually contained a powerful opioid, nitazene.

NSW Health has since issued an urgent warning about the tablets, which are orange or red and rectangular, with a red bull logo and wording.

Three people went to hospital from taking as little as half a tablet.

Drugs containing potent opioids can cause unexpected and severe overdoses, or death.

The incident has reignited calls for drug testing.

Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong said, “How many people need to end up in hospital before the NSW Government will listen to what experts have been saying for years – pill testing, ditching drug dogs, and decriminalisation can save lives.”

“We cannot allow the conversation to put blame on people for coming to entirely preventable harm, or put reform in the too-hard basket!” she continued.

The ACT introduced a fixed pill-testing site in July 2022 as part of a trial that will run until the end of 2024, but NSW has so far resisted rolling out a similar regime, despite increased pressure ahead of the summer festival season.

Just three weeks ago, 8 people overdosed on MDMA at an electronic music festival in Melbourne, again reigniting calls for the measures to be taken in NSW.

At the time, Lydia Shelly, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL), said, “Pill testing is a crucial harm reduction measure that can save lives and prevent tragic incidents like those witnessed in Melbourne.”

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