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New pill ingredient worries ministry

Published: 10:13AM Saturday October 04, 2008 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

A new party pill ingredient is worrying the Ministry of Health enough to call for retailers to stop selling it in its pure form.

BZP may be off the shelves now, but an ingredient they are calling Geranium Oil Extract or DMAA has left some users sick.

Six months after the party pill BZP was banned, unlike the last time, this incident is making the industry sing the same tune.

Matt Bowden, of Social Tonics Association, said they share the ministry's concerns.

"DMAA should not be sold in gram bags of powder, overdose bags. It's not a good look," says Bowden.

The Health Ministry is trying to stop the sale of bags of white powder Di-methyl-amyl-amine or DMAA, after four users ended up sick in Waikato hospital.

Many retailers do not stock pure DMAA powder, saying they do not trust it as they are not sure about the manufacturers.

But people seeking the drug only need to go online and there are two websites where anyone over the age of 18 can buy it, no questions asked.

The powder is even being sold on the sites in five gram containers, which is hundreds of time the recommended dose.

The Drug Foundation's Ross Bell says it was a similar situation when BZP first hit the market, being sold in unmarked containers and quite high level of dosages.

There are party pills that use DMAA as an ingredient, although the party pill industry says in that form, there is nothing to worry about.

"It's only if you take large concentrated amount in a bag and start selling it, that's when you start having trouble," says Bowden.

DMAA's sometimes labelled as Geranium Oil Extract, but some warn that Natural doesn't mean harmless.

"If you believe the industry, it sounds like there's pixies dancing in the field picking natural ingredients and makng these wonderful safe products and we know that's not the case," says Bell.

The Drug Foundation is suggesting party pill users seek out better information about what they're taking, whatever that is.

At the moment, the government cannot force people who have DMAA to hand it over, because it doesn't come under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The question of DMAA's continued legality will be up for review next month.

Meanwhile, an Otago University study has backed concerns that the initial BZP party pill ban would simply boost the illegal drug market.

Surveys of students found one in six were more likely to take ecstasy as a replacement now that the legal alternative was no longer legal.

However, two thirds of students surveyed said they would no longer use BZP party pills now they were illegal.