Bluelight

  • Mix of 25C-NBOMe, 4-FA and MDMA sold as MDMA in Melbourne, Australia

    tl;dr – NBOMe mixtures sold as MDMA are around, don’t snort unknown caps, use test-kits wisely, look after your mates, and get your lab student/worker friends to contact us so we don’t need to rely on labs in Barcelona to access high-quality drug testing in Australia!

    On the weekend 15-16 January 2017, there was a spate of poisonings, hospitalisations and deaths that have been associated a batch of capsules that were reportedly sold as MDMA or Ecstasy. Punters at Revolver nightclub and other clubs on Melbourne’s Chapel Street were affected.

    The contents of these caps appeared damp, more like a brown sugar consistency than crystals or powder.



    We obtained anonymous reports from people who consumed these capsules. The reports describe very strong hallucinogenic symptoms and paranoia. While in most cases, the symptoms resolved without medical intervention, they were very unpleasant, with one person reporting that they ‘felt like they were going to die or never be the same again’.

    Reagent test kit results were shared by Bernie Maitri: these reports showed the substance was unlikely to be MDMA-like, and could instead contain PM(M)A or 2C-T-X. However these results were inconclusive, so we arranged to send a sample of this drug to Barcelona, where Energy Control conducts an international testing service. Mireia Ventura conducted the tests with GC/MS and LC/MS. The testing confirmed that the contents of the capsules:
    - 4-FA (main substance)
    - a low amount of MDMA
    - 25C-NBOMe

    This mixture is consistent with the reports. 25C-NBOMe is highly potent with only microgram doses required to produce strong hallucinogenic effects. 4-FA is an amphetamine-type stimulant which has been described as having an effect somewhere between amphetamine and MDMA. It is concerning that a low amount of MDMA was detected in the mixture, as this may be an indication that the manufacturers were hoping to fool reagent test kits by including enough MDMA to produce a positive result.

    The NBOMe series when intentionally consumed is put under the tongue or in the cheek – swallowing is less effective, but clearly can still cause strong effects at certain doses. Snorting NBOMe is very dangerous and is more likely to cause death. Energy Control were unable to determine the dosage of 25C-NBOMe in this cap. It is likely to be a large dose, though, given that it was effective orally.

    Of course there are limitations we must mention. There’s no evidence linking all of the poisonings, transports to hospital, or the deaths with this particular batch that was tested. The coroners reports on the causes of the deaths have not yet been finalised. Even if they are the same batch, the drugs may not be evenly distributed throughout the batch. There may be multiple batches circulating that have similar characteristics visually but may contain completely different drugs. Despite these limitations we believe it is important for people who use these to know as much as possible about what they might be consuming, and that is why we are posting this message. We hope you will share it widely with your friends.

    There are a few messages to take away from these findings:
    1. Use reagent test kits wisely. Negative results are more useful than positive ones. If you test for MDxx and it is not present, then you know you did not get what you wanted, and should discard. BUT if you test for MDxx and it IS present, you CANNOT assume that MDxx is either the only drug present or even the main drug present. The combination we have found above is a dangerous one which may result in unwanted strong hallucinations. It could also be fatal especially if the NBOMe dose is extremely high or if the substance is snorted. You can use a combination of reagent test kits to get a better idea of what it contains. But currently, where we are seeing mixes of novel substances, more accurate technology is really a necessity.
    2. Please do not assume that just because the drugs in your possession do not look like the drugs pictures here, that they are therefore ‘safe’. Remember that no drug use is safe. There are always risks, but those risks can be reduced if you Know your Body. Know your Mind. Know your Substance. Know your Source
    3. Australians who care about the lives of people who use drugs, that is, people who use drugs, the families of people who use drugs, the communities of people who use drugs, the employers of people who use drugs, need to ask our politicians this question. Why do we have to go to Spain to find out the content of these capsules? There are many laboratories right here in Australia with the right equipment who could tell us the answers in hours or days, rather than weeks. We need lab-grade testing facilities available now in Australia to get timely information out to communities so they can be properly informed.
    4. Some harm reduction messages will remain the same. Swallow instead of snort. Look after your friends. If you see someone freaking out, get them help. Don’t hesitate to call an ambulance – the police do not attend unless there is a death or serious violence. Tell your friends what you are taking so they know what to tell emergency personnel if they have to take you to hospital.
    5. Do you work in a laboratory in Australia that is equipped to test the content and purity of illicit drugs? Are you willing to help? Right now we need to band together and look after our community. The Dutch, the Swiss, the Austrians, and many other countries have up-to-date information about what is circulating and what drugs are being misrepresented as other drugs so they can tell the drug-using networks and those who care for them who can make life-saving behavioural changes in response. If you can help us, we welcome you getting in contact with us.


    Monica Barratt 'Tronica' & Stephanie Tzanetis

    With many thanks to: Bernie Maitri, Energy Control (Mireia Ventura Cristina Gil and Iván Fornís), Johnboy Davidson, Stephen Bright, Raimondo Bruno, and the anonymous donor of the tested substance. Victoria Police Forensic Centre were made aware of our findings.
    Comments 21 Comments
    1. LucidSDreamr's Avatar
      LucidSDreamr -
      unbelievable....whoever put that concoction together deserves to do a few years in jail....which its seems they will
    1. drplatypus's Avatar
      drplatypus -
      We do a lot of this work already in Australia, and our labs are very friendly- surprised you didn't ask, Mon...🤔
      Very happy to ID anything that causes harm- as Steph will attest, we ID'd deschloroketamine out of Victoria last year, and have confirmed cases for both NSW and Vic Poisons. And we have an NMR 😇.
      We'll be expanding soon- news to come soon...
      Watch this space.
    1. spacejunk's Avatar
      spacejunk -
      ^ great to hear, doc.


      This is scary - to know that people are cutting MDMA with 25x-NBOMe. Thanks for posting this tronica - i know i'm going to be talking to all of my friends who use MDMA and making sure they understand the seriousness of the situation.

      Much love to all the people doing great work on the HR front
    1. Verybuffed's Avatar
      Verybuffed -
      Quote Originally Posted by drplatypus View Post
      We do a lot of this work already in Australia, and our labs are very friendly- surprised you didn't ask, Mon...🤔
      Very happy to ID anything that causes harm- as Steph will attest, we ID'd deschloroketamine out of Victoria last year, and have confirmed cases for both NSW and Vic Poisons. And we have an NMR 😇.
      We'll be expanding soon- news to come soon...
      Watch this space.
      Love your work. The day you gave us your email in relation to testing novel substances at EGA was one of the most reassuring days of my life. To me you truly are a football star as you phrased it.
    1. drplatypus's Avatar
      drplatypus -
      Quote Originally Posted by spacejunk View Post
      ^ great to hear, doc.


      This is scary - to know that people are cutting MDMA with 25x-NBOMe. Thanks for posting this tronica - i know i'm going to be talking to all of my friends who use MDMA and making sure they understand the seriousness of the situation.

      Much love to all the people doing great work on the HR front
      Completely agree- I was asked by one of our federal politicians whether Australian drugs are more heterogeneous than elsewhere in the world.
      I actually think we just have far less of an idea of what's going on with them, compared to other countries who are pulling out ahead of us with well organised testing programs.
    1. drplatypus's Avatar
      drplatypus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Verybuffed View Post
      Love your work. The day you gave us your email in relation to testing novel substances at EGA was one of the most reassuring days of my life. To me you truly are a football star as you phrased it.
      Stop it now- you're making me blush!

      We are limited, still. We can certainly justify looking at samples that cause harm or death, but don't have the resources to take all and sundry, like WEDINOS, which we set up in the UK.

      Next time- and there will definitely be a next time- let's see if we can't give the homegrown chemists a chance to prove how strong they are (Hint: they're REALLY strong and.... (shhh, now...)... they have NMR & can do quant. too!)
    1. Tronica's Avatar
      Tronica -
      Quote Originally Posted by drplatypus View Post
      We do a lot of this work already in Australia, and our labs are very friendly- surprised you didn't ask, Mon...🤔
      Very happy to ID anything that causes harm- as Steph will attest, we ID'd deschloroketamine out of Victoria last year, and have confirmed cases for both NSW and Vic Poisons. And we have an NMR 😇.
      We'll be expanding soon- news to come soon...
      Watch this space.
      Hi David
      1. Didn't realised you had identified things from outside Canberra, didn't realise in Australia that we were doing that hence my plea for more lab people to come forward so we can get more labs opening up for this kind of work.
      2. I have called you a few times these last two months hoping to have a general update on all the great things you speak off but get ignored. So you are busy, so we all are, but if you are truly interested in talking to me, call me back.
      3. My point is not that we don't have the technical capability in Australia. Of course we do! Dr Caldicott, no-one ever doubts your will to do harm reduction. We need you and many others around Australia willing to analyse drugs. The service should be like Energy control, available to everyone anonymously. That's what I'm calling for here. It's the politics that needs a swift kick and we need a few mavericks in the lab to bust out and help us! IMHO
    1. Tronica's Avatar
      Tronica -
      We have David's networks but we are still looking for Australian chemists and people with lab drug know-how. Come forward and volunteer!
    1. Tronica's Avatar
      Tronica -
      Please see Energy Control's response - Thank you to them for doing this for free for us here in Australia.
      http://energycontrol-international.o...rom-australia/
    1. festivalfun's Avatar
      festivalfun -
      This is shocking. What's even the point in adding the NBOMe? Most punters would've been happy with a 4-FA/MD combo and probably would've come back for more. The addition of NBOMe would scare even the most seasoned of users. No logic in this.
    1. Tronica's Avatar
      Tronica -
      Quote Originally Posted by festivalfun View Post
      This is shocking. What's even the point in adding the NBOMe? Most punters would've been happy with a 4-FA/MD combo and probably would've come back for more. The addition of NBOMe would scare even the most seasoned of users. No logic in this.
      Indeed. Why include the NBOMe? Is it a mistake at the manufacturing end? Why would it be deliberate? Interested if anyone has any theories/insights.
    1. drplatypus's Avatar
      drplatypus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tronica View Post
      Hi David
      1. Didn't realised you had identified things from outside Canberra, didn't realise in Australia that we were doing that hence my plea for more lab people to come forward so we can get more labs opening up for this kind of work.
      2. I have called you a few times these last two months hoping to have a general update on all the great things you speak off but get ignored. So you are busy, so we all are, but if you are truly interested in talking to me, call me back.
      3. My point is not that we don't have the technical capability in Australia. Of course we do! Dr Caldicott, no-one ever doubts your will to do harm reduction. We need you and many others around Australia willing to analyse drugs. The service should be like Energy control, available to everyone anonymously. That's what I'm calling for here. It's the politics that needs a swift kick and we need a few mavericks in the lab to bust out and help us! IMHO

      1) And here was I thinking you were at the many lectures in which we described what we were doing- silly me! You have a doppleganger out there, BTW!

      2) Always happy to chat! Some plans can't be shared with everyone, in case they get derailed by third parties- we've had some painful experiences of that in the last year, from folk claiming to be on the same side. As I recall, you opted out our mail list because you declined to agree to Chatham House rules? So, sorry you're feeling ignored (even if it was your choice, not ours!). Apart from the topics you advised us that you couldn't 'not share', pretty sure I've not had any missed calls from you, Mon. Just as well I call you!

      3) To the most substantive element; in the many, many interviews that I have done on this subject, I have ALWAYS said that Australia has the technical expertise. It'll never be proven if it is somehow deemed more convenient to send samples 10,000 miles away for analysis, rather than even just taking the time to ask around in Australia. It's not like the playing group is enormous here! I get that it'd be lovely to have a tame analytical chemist to do one's bidding- goodness knows I'd love one myself!- but until such time as you do, I guess we have to play with what we've got.

      So 3 options at the moment:
      1) Forensic labs- largely pwned by law enforcement; if you want a feel for their approach, listen to Andrew Liebie. And then cut yourself.
      2) Commercial labs- while one is cutting oneself, you might as well go deep, and grab a kidney. Because, although they'll privately take anything you send them, that's what they'll charge you for the privilege.
      3) Academic labs- there are far, far fewer academic labs LICENSED to handle illicits than are actually capable of doing so. The majority of them are very keen to hang on to those licenses. Those licenses are dependent upon police approval. Police in most jurisdictions, as we know, vigourously and actively block pilltesting. Asking for a 'maverick' to 'stand up' is asking a poorly paid scientist to risk their current job, and and possibly all future jobs, when they are prosecuted for breaking the law. Because that would happen. It's absolutely not right, but as your Victorian Premier is fond of saying, this isn't Europe. And from a ethical perspective, I can tell you that putting a civilian in that sort of position falls far, far short of NH&MRC standards.

      So there you have it. Supporting a local laboratory that meets all of the criteria, and CAN help, could go a long way to encouraging other laboratories to be brave. Defaulting to overseas collaborators, for whatever reason, does not encourage any lab to take that risk.

      I know things are rough in academia at the moment and there is an imperative to write grants, write papers, do the "public engagement" thing and own swathes of academic territory, no matter how it's dressed up. BTW as far as media is concerned-great job, and delighted not to be asked for once!

      But this particular field, in Australia, is one that is only going to be advanced when the people who want it to advance accept that they need to collaborate and work with the people who can advance it, even if it means that both parties won't end up with whole cake in the long run.

      Much love and respect-
    1. Tronica's Avatar
      Tronica -
      I think we have determined through a very public webpage that the drugs could have been sent to Dr Caldicott's lab in Canberra. So, if anyone on Bluelight has any drugs that they would like tested, perhaps they can send them to Canberra. How exactly should they do this, David? Many people ask me this very question and if you and your lab are the solution, then we will all be very happy.

      In the meantime, there is Energy Control International, which you can access through Tor, if that suits you better.
    1. nohandsjoe's Avatar
      nohandsjoe -
      This is wonderfully written! Truly gold-standard HR.

      I do feel compelled to ask, however- will someone take it upon themselves to write a similar piece detailing medical stats on British Columbia's (Canada) fentanyl anogue crisis? It's been found in street heroin, obviously, but also oxycodone, cocaine, and allege-DMA. It's killed over 700 this past year, localized primarily to a major city and the neighboring capital.

      Were I not so damned busy grappling with a particularly difficult stage in my MDD, I would volunteer (I can write at an academic level when not so hungover; I have to squint at a teensy phone screen), but if this Australian finding warrants coverage (and it does! In extremis!) then one might presume that our epidemic is worthy or a few words as well.

      700+ deaths from a specific set of analogues in a region with a moderately small population is drastically out of our 'ordinary'. It has resulted in an officially ordained State of Medical Emergency (often used to impede the spead of various contagious pathogens) and has spurred a move towards the construction (despite the presece of persistent draconian Fedelral law) of supervised injecty sites in in needed areas. Nalaxone kits are free, as well.

      Sincerest apologies for using the OP as an excuse to reiterate our fight: it's a topic I'm passionate about, as even on BL I see misinformation being disseminated.

      Love,
      G
    1. Tronica's Avatar
      Tronica -
      Hi G. Feel free to email me and I'm happy to talk further about your article idea, what outlet, etc. And if you'd like to write about the opioid crisis for Bluelight front page, for sure. Just get in contact. Agreed, it's a massive public health issue.
    1. rxexd's Avatar
      rxexd -
      I'm not in Australia how ever I've been told & by testing that real MDMA not cut to pieces is very difficult to obtain. More often then not you'll get some Chinese version, mixed w/ a stimulant like meth.
    1. QuinntheEskimo's Avatar
      QuinntheEskimo -
      i did multiple comments - they're not here. No wonder no-one gives a shit about BL.
    1. spacejunk's Avatar
      spacejunk -
      No posts have been unapproved in this thread, so i'm not sure what you're talking about..
    1. Rhonda Parry's Avatar
      Rhonda Parry -
      It is comforting to know that we are abreast with advanced nations in our programmed and supervised drug testing .Enlightened and knowledgable labs are the jey to our secure and safe advancement .Thanks for making this possible .
    1. Beefcastleomega's Avatar
      Beefcastleomega -
      I think you stumbled upon someone trying to concoct a new drug altogether. Everyone has been trying to find the next new thing to flood the market with and mixing those drugs together could be a gold mind if people would like it. If they have the ability to get those other substances than they have the ability to just have MDMA for sale.