Pill testers have found “deadly” contaminants in drugs examined as part of an Australian-first pill testing trial at Groovin The Moo festival in Canberra over the weekend.
After getting the green light from festival promoters, police and the state government, the STA-SAFE Consortium operated a pill testing service at the University Of Canberra festival site on Sunday, giving the thousands in attendance the chance to test any pills they were considering taking.
Following the trial — of which 128 festival-goers took part — Ted Noffs Foundation CEO Matt Noffs shared the following statistics:
- 85 pill samples were tested
- 50 per cent were found to contain pure MDMA
- 50 per cent contained ‘other’ substances such as lactose, sweetener or paint
- Two of the samples contained ‘deadly’ substances
Speaking with Music Feeds, STA-SAFE member Dr David Caldicott said the group’s infrared spectrophotometer (which analysed the drugs) couldn’t determine one of the ‘deadly’ substances, but identified the other as N-Ethylpentylone, which has been linked to mass overdoses and fatal overdoses.
“The beauty of what we were doing, was that within minutes — literally three minutes — the commander of health at the venue and also the Chief Health Officer were advised,” he said.
“Immediate realtime data for healthcare responders, so it just worked perfectly.”
Dr Caldicott said five festival-goers decided to destroy their pills after being given their test results, with “a quarter to a third” of punters telling pill testers that they would no longer be taking their pills.
“Probably, we altered the way that the majority of people were going to take their substances, in a manner that rendered them far less likely to end up in hospital,” he said.
Dr Caldicott said STA-SAFE have already had “a slurry of people” contact them about future trials. “So I expect we might be busy over the next couple of years,” he said.
In a statement, Harm Reduction Australia said the pill testing trial was “very well received by festival-goers”, and “will provide a very important range of information which will be provided to key stakeholders in the ACT”.
Police have praised the behaviour of Groovin The Moo attendees, despite a number of arrests on the festival’s first weekend for 2018.
One man was arrested at the Canberra leg of the festival on drug possession charges, with four males and one female being taken into custody for anti-social behaviour or intoxication. Two people were also transported to hospital after becoming drug or alcohol affected.
Groovin The Moo will continue in Bendigo, Townsville and Bunbury this weekend.
Here is Australia's first official #pilltesting service in numbers:
85 samples tested
50% was 'other' (lactose, sweetener, paint)
50% was pure MDMA
2 of the samples were deadly
So, harm reduced.
We did it.
— Matt Noffs (@mattnoffs) April 29, 2018