Party pill inventor backs restriction

16:00, Nov 08 2009

Government action against a new breed of party pills has been heralded by the drugs' inventor as a positive change from last year's BZP-ban by Jim Anderton, then associate health minister.

Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne has announced 1,3-dimethylamylamine, known as DMAA, will be scheduled as a restricted substance.

DMAA, a naturally-occurring derivative of geranium oil, is the primary active ingredient in "new generation party pills", Dunne said at the weekend.

Dunne said the move had been made on advice from the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs.

The inventor of DMAA pills, drug policy activist Matt Bowden, of Auckland, who also invented BZP pills, said the move was "welcome news".

"Peter Dunne has shown wisdom in listening to his experts this week.

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"Tight regulation gives society controls over the consumer market. The other option of banning would have handed control of the market to organised crime."

Wigram MP Anderton, who pushed through the BZP ban introduced in April last year, said DMAA was a similar substance to BZP. When BZP was investigated, DMAA was described to him as an "analogue" substance, he said.

Scheduling as a restricted substance was the route to banning a drug, he said.

BZP was placed on the same schedule before its ban so it could be tested and evaluated.

Dunne said more work would be done in regards to dosage limits, but a ban was not on the cards.

"I'm not ruling it out ... but at this stage the advice is a restriction is probably sufficient."

Dunne said he was also moving to have sales restricted to pill or tablet form to reduce the risk of overdose from the pure chemical form of the drug.

Bowden urged Dunne to move quickly on dosage limits as new players entering the party-pill market could often only use higher doses as their point of difference to attract customers.

In January, government reports showed a 45-year-old man had suffered a stroke after taking DMAA in powder form, and other users had been hospitalised with severe nausea and headaches.

KEY FACTS

Listing a drug as a restricted substance meant it would be illegal to:

* Sell or supply DMAA to anyone under 18.

* Advertise DMAA in the media.

* Offer DMAA as a gift or reward.

* Sell or supply DMAA from premises where alcohol is sold or from service stations.

* Sell DMAA from any premises where children or minors gather.

The Press