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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN BC: Coroner Uncovers Lethal Chemical In Victims Of BC
Title:CN BC: Coroner Uncovers Lethal Chemical In Victims Of BC
Published On:2012-01-14
Source:Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Fetched On:2012-01-16 06:01:58

Five British Columbians have died from ecstasy laced with the lethal
chemical PMMA since last August, B.C's chief coroner announced
Friday, after a review of the province's last 18 ecstasy-related deaths.

Lisa Lapointe said after reviewing the 16 ecstasy-related deaths in
2011 and two so far in 2012 it was determined that the three men and
two women - ranging in age from 14 to 37 - died from taking MDMA
pills laced with the same chemical linked to a spate of recent deaths
in the Calgary area. Three of the deaths occurred in the Lower
Mainland, and two on Vancouver Island.

"PMMA is a rare drug, it's something that we haven't seen before in
relation to ecstasy-related deaths," Lapointe said during a media
conference call Friday. "As with MDMA, there's no known safe dose of PMMA."

As a result of the review PMMA has been added to the list of
chemicals that a coroner screens for in B.C. when con-ducting a
toxicology report.

"We've always known that ecstasy tablets - while they do include MDMA
- - could include a variety of things," Lapointe said.

In four of the five PMMA-related deaths one or more other substances
such as alcohol, marijuana and cocaine were present said Lapointe,
who added that amounts of these substances are found in most
ecstasy-related deaths.

It would cost too much money to review ecstasy-related deaths for
PMMA from years before 2010, Lapointe said.

PMMA (para-Meth-oxymethamphetamine) is about five times more toxic
than MDMA or pure ecstasy. Though it is much more toxic than MDMA,
PMMA has a slower and milder onset of its effects.

"[Users] start taking more pills because they think they got lower
doses and they end up with much more significant overdoses," B.C.'s
provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall said Thursday afternoon.

He noted PMMA "significantly interferes" with the brain, which can
cause the user's body temperature to rise. "Once you get to 104, 105
degrees, you can get irreversible brain and organ damage," Kendall said.

In 2006, seven British Columbians were killed in ecstasy-related deaths.

That number jumped to 12 in 2007, then 23 in 2008, 21 in 2009, and 20
in 2010, according to Lapointe.

Several police agencies have pills sold as ecstasy that were
voluntarily forwarded to them recently and may contain the lethal
MDMA/PMMA mix. How-ever, authorities don't want to make pictures of
the pills avail-able to the public, Lapointe said.

Tyler Miller, 20, of Abbotsford died from a PMMA-laced pill on Nov.
27, 2011 his father Russ Miller confirmed Friday.

"Don't trust everything you're told," Miller cautioned parents. "You
want to double-check and then triple-check. Being a little nosy but
having them there for the rest of your life? I'd rather be a little nosy.

"Even that's not going to guarantee a sure thing, but at that point
you've done what you can."

A 24-year-old Abbotsford woman who took the drug at New Year's is no
longer in critical condition but remains in intensive care, Const.
Ian Mac-Donald of the Abbotsford Police said Friday.

It is not known if the pills she took contained PMMA.

MacDonald said that police are only interested in arresting the
suppliers of the drug. "If [ecstasy users] want to turn their pills
over to us for testing purposes or they simply want to turn them over
for disposal we'd be very happy to oblige," MacDonald said.
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