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The Four Corners report earlier this week, ‘Dying to Dance’, is misleading and needs to be more accurately reported by responsible media. It called for governments to fund the testing of party pills at concert venues and states that the rising purity of ecstasy tablets is endangering the lives of ecstasy users because of more likely overdoses. The reality is that overdose deaths from ecstasy are rare, and most deaths are due to individual reactions to relatively small amounts of the drug.

Gary Christian, Secretary for Drug Free Australia said, “Concerns about ecstasy overdoses and varying purity represents a fundamental confusion between ecstasy and heroin. In fact, some ecstasy users can boast of having previously taken so much ecstasy that ecstasy blood levels were more than 70 times the lowest levels associated with ecstasy mortality, and at least 4 times greater than the higher levels more typically found in ecstasy deaths.”

Drug Free Australia has noted that the Four Corners program interviewed one ecstasy user who claimed celebrating his 22nd birthday by taking 22 ecstasy tablets that day, contradicting the thesis of the program. “Whether a tablet is 5% or 60% MDMA is not that important in terms of deaths – it is more likely to relate to what other drugs are being taken with it AND what physiological reaction an individual user will have to it. That is what is causing the deaths,” said Mr Christian.

“Our concern is not so much about more MDMA in an ecstasy tablet, but rather larger numbers of people initiating ecstasy use, which the current publicity could presently encourage. For example, allowing drug testing at concerts would send a message that taking illegal drugs is okay and even safe. We need to get the facts right and be asking pill-testing advocates, ‘Precisely what impurities killed all those ecstasy users over the last couple of years here in Australia?’ They won't have an answer.”

Excellent medical information particularly on ecstasy blood levels and mortality is at http://bja.oxfordjournals.org/content/96/6/678.full.

See also the website of a harm reduction organisation which provides testing of pills for users https://dancesafe.org/mdma-related-deaths-stop-calling-them-overdoses/

Contact: Gary Christian 0422 163 141 (02) 4306 3466


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