NEWCASTLE police are investigating the spread of a dangerous new drug that caused a mass overdose on the weekend.
At least 11 party goers were taken to Calvary Mater Newcastle and John Hunter Hospital emergency departments between Friday and Monday nights after taking ‘blue superman’ pills.
The distinctive blue triangle-shaped pills have a superman logo stamped on them and are being sold as MDMA, or ecstasy, in Newcastle, but may not contain any MDMA.
The patients, ten men and one woman, were aged between 18 and 34. They presented over four nights and were not believed to have attended the same venue.
Several made their own way to the emergency departments and others arrived by NSW Ambulance.
All reported taking blue pills or blue superman pills. All recovered and have been discharged from the hospitals.
Senior Staff Specialist Addiction Medicine, Director Alcohol and Drug Unit, Calvary Mater Newcastle and Hunter New England Health, Dr Craig Sadler, said it was unclear what the drug was.
He said tests were being carried out on the pills, but the results were not yet known.
“Clinical signs could indicate it contains a particularly potent dose of MDMA,” he said.
“But there are some signs not consistent with a stimulant, indicating it might not be MDMA but rather a central nervous system depressant.
“At this stage we don’t know what’s in them.”
It is understood the patients declined rapidly and suffered varying levels of consciousness. At least one suffered seizures.
Newcastle City Duty Officer Inspector Shane Buggy said this was “another clear example” of the dangers of taking illicit drugs.
“You never know what it is in the pill you are about to take or what it may or may not contain,” he said.
“There is no such thing as a bad batch. These pills are made by criminals in backyard labs and might be sold as one substance but are actually another.”
Dr Sadler said a complicating factor was all the patients reported drinking alcohol with the pills.
He warned anyone against taking the pills and said people who took party drugs and felt unwell should seek medical help immediately.
“From a health service perspective, if people present seeking assistance police will not be called,” he said.
“If people feel unwell they should get to a hospital quickly or call an ambulance if necessary.”
Police are urging anyone with information in relation to the pills to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.