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Cocaine adulterated with protonitazene

On Monday July 1 Penington Institute issued an alert to our national and state harm reduction network warning that there have been recent overdoses due to protonitazene toxicity in the Melbourne area drug supply.

On Tuesday morning Victoria’s Department of Health also issued a warning that a white powder being sold in Melbourne as cocaine contained the potent opioid.

“Protonitazene is a potent synthetic opioid that can be up to 100 times stronger than heroin,’’ Penington Institute CEO John Ryan said.

“It has recently appeared on several occasions in Victoria and interstate, including in what was understood to be cocaine.

“This further reinforces the importance of the Victorian Government’s decision to introduce an 18-month drug checking trial.’’

Mr Ryan said that the combination of a stimulant and a powerful opioid was a particularly dangerous mixture, warned that drug consumers should be aware of the signs of opioid overdose.

“These include breathing slowly and reduced consciousness (meaning someone is hard to wake up. In some cases, there may also be tiny pupils,’’ Mr Ryan said.

He also spoke of the importance of naloxone, a free take-home treatment available at pharmacies that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose or adverse reactions.

More information about opioid overdose symptoms can be found on the Penington Institute website.

CEO John Ryan is available for comment on this issue. To arrange an interview time contact: Senior Media Advisor Warwick Green (w.green@penington.org.au / +61 439 647 144)

Penington Institute is an independent public health non-profit organisation with expertise in drug policy, research and community education.

John Ryan is a leader in public health and safety and the inaugural CEO of Penington Institute. John actively works to promote sensible and harm-minimising approaches to drug use in the community and provides expert advice, including to governments.

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