Dr Death is here in Manchester and he has a tighter grip on the city’s clubbing and drugs scene than ever thought before.
Previously feared to only be an undesired contaminant in ‘cheap pills’, the dangerous substance PMA is now being found in powders and crystal forms too.
In reality, PMA (full chemical name Para-Methoxyamphetamine) has been unwittingly consumed by some of the UK’s 500,000 ecstasy-loving party-goers for many years.
However recently there has been a spate of deaths linked to the drug around Greater Manchester and the North West: two deaths in Wigan, one death in Trafford, one in Salford, two in Bolton and, most recently, one at Manchester’s Warehouse Project.
PMA is very similar to MDMA in composition. According to FRANK the effects of the drug ‘can make you feel alert, alive and full of energy’.
But their website goes on to say: “PMA is more poisonous and can kill at lower doses than MDMA.”
Just a quarter of a tablet (60mg) is enough to dangerously increase blood pressure and body temperature and it reacts especially badly to users who suffer from epilepsy or asthma.
Manchester is now leading the way in trying to understand PMA more fully.
The Warehouse Project has recently started a sophisticated drug testing programme. The results of which, yet to be officially published, have unearthed a shocking revelation that goes a long way to explaining why PMA-related deaths are on the increase.
Sacha Lord-Marchionne, Director of The Warehouse Project, told MM: “Customers believe that PMA is only appearing in tablets. It’s not.
“It appears mainly in crystal form. That’s one thing that I can say from what I’ve just found out from the results is that there were hardly any tablets at all now [testing positive for PMA], it was all powder and crystal which is rather weird.
“They think they are buying ecstasy or MDMA but these scumbags are cutting it with this cheap PMA.”
Previously it was considered common knowledge that PMA was only found in ecstasy pills. This meant that revellers seeking to keep Dr Death away were taking powdered MDMA in the misguided belief that it was safer.
The state of the art testing conducted by the Warehouse Project revealed that no form of MDMA is completely safe from PMA contamination: a revelation that could save many lives.
Previously, the problem was that PMA, and its ‘sister-drug’ PMMA, were very hard to test for. Home testing kits could not trace it and even the Mandelin test used in many drug testing laboratories struggled to highlight the drug.
This was because if a pill, crystal or powder contained both MDMA and PMA, the dark blue colour of MDMA would trump the lighter green of PMA in the reagent test, masking the deadly drug.
The Global Drug Survey released a video [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MbNJYoHDz8] demonstrating how unreliable PMA-testing was.
Dr John Ramsey, who conducted the test for the Global Drug Survey, said: “If it [the pill] also contained PMA we wouldn’t know.”
But the recent tests conducted at Warehouse Project are considerably more reliable.
Mr Lord-Marchionne told MM: “The machine was just twice the size of shoebox. What they do is get a sample of the drug and put it on a microscope slide and the machine drops into it. They have a computer next to it and apparently every formula of drug has a graph and whatever comes out of that they match it up to the nearest graph and they can tell you what’s in it.
“They update their software every single day when something new comes out. So if something new that you can buy for two quid off a website comes out they update it immediately.”
The negative effects of the drug, also nicknamed ‘Killer’, are being felt internationally. In Western Canada there were 10 deaths attributed to PMA in a mere two-month period alone.
It is hoped that the results of the Warehouse Project’s testing initiative will provide party-goers world-wide with enough information about PMA to stop Dr Death claiming any more victims.