Recent tests have revealed that pills submitted for analysis as suspected MDMA (commonly referred to as "ecstasy") have been found to contain other illicit drugs and in other cases "party pills", which commonly contain legal benzylpiperazine ( BZP) have been found to also contain illicit drugs.
Detective Superintendent Win van der Velde, Police National Crime Manager, said "there is now scientific evidence that the line between illicit drugs and what are deemed as "legal party pills" is becoming increasingly blurred".
Legal party pills, manufactured in New Zealand, visually look very similar to "ecstasy" type illicit drugs. Legal party pill names, the logos and promotional material used are also very similar to "ecstasy" type illicit drugs.
Mr Keith Bedford ESR Forensic Programme Manager said "tests conducted by ESR scientists have quite clearly shown that two of the more common "ecstasy type" pills being distributed in the party drug scene contain methamphetamine and MDMA plus other potentially harmful, illicit active ingredients. The tests have also revealed pills that contained BZP plus a variety of other ingredients including MDMA and other harmful illicit active ingredients".
"It is therefore apparent substances being marketed and sold on the "black market" as MDMA in fact contain a raft of other substances" said Mr van der Velde. Many of these ingredients are classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act as controlled Class A, B or C drugs and therefore illegal.
"There have been recent cases where people have been known to take "party pills" without having any idea of the origins of the pill or ingredients, and, as a consequence, have suffered severe illness," said Mr van der Velde.
A man died last week and two others received hospital treatment after allegedly taking "unknown pills" during a night out in Levin. The circumstances involving a Greymouth man currently in Christchurch hospital on life support is yet another example.
"Those responsible for distributing these types of drugs are breaking the law and could receive heavy penalties if caught and charged in court."
People accepting any chemical substance without first thinking about its origins, and what it may or may not contain, are taking an enormous risk to their health and safety said Mr van der Velde.