NSW Health has warned of potentially lethal “Red Bull” tablets being sold as MDMA but instead containing a potent opioid, circulating ahead of Mardi Gras season.
Three people presented to Sydney hospitals over the past weekend, NSW Health says, after taking as little as half a tablet that they believed was party drug ecstasy.
One of the patients went to the ICU and has since been discharged home.
NSW Health warns the dangerous tablets (above) are an orange/red colour and rectangular shape. The pills have a Red Bull logo and wording and are sold as MDMA (ecstasy).
Testing of a tablet linked to one case confirmed it contained no MDMA at all. Instead, the pill contained nitazene, a highly potent opioid.
‘Red Bull’ tablets potentially lethal
NSW Poisons Information Centre Medical Director Dr Darren Roberts said drugs containing potent opioids such as nitazenes can cause unexpected and severe overdose or death.
“Nitazenes can be as strong, or stronger than fentanyl and may be more likely to impair breathing than other opioids,” Dr Roberts said.
Opioid overdose symptoms can include pin-point pupils, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, slow breathing/snoring or skin turning blue or grey.
If you witness someone with these symptoms after taking drugs, call Triple Zero (000) immediately or seek urgent medical attention.
The opioid-reversing medication Naloxone, available in NSW for free, should also be given immediately if available. NSW Health has advised anyone using drugs to carry naloxone.
“It’s important people recognise the signs of an opioid overdose early and know how to respond. Taking the appropriate action early can save a life,” Dr Roberts said.
Stay safe during Mardi Gras season
LGBTQIA+ health organisation ACON also shared the “Red Bull” tablet warning. They urged partygoers to stay alert and safe during Mardi Gras season in Sydney.
“As we head towards the Mardi Gras period, share this alert with your friends and community to keep each other safe,” ACON said.
“Look out for each other out there.”
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