News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Strychnine Found in Dutch Ecstasy

24 February 2000

Ministry of Health Warns of Strychnine Found in Dutch Ecstasy

The Ministry of Health is warning users of illegal drugs about the added danger they may be exposing themselves to after Dutch authorities found strychnine in a sample of MDMA (Ecstasy) in Holland.

The New Zealand Customs Service advise that most of the Ecstasy smuggled into New Zealand comes from Western Europe, particularly Holland.

Strychnine, which is now only used as a rat poison, is deadly in quite small doses. Two tablets, each containing the amount reported from the Dutch sample, could be fatal.

"This issue highlights the danger with illegal drugs. The consumer has no idea what he/she is buying and they should realise that they could be putting themselves at serious risk of injury or death", said Dr Bob Boyd, Chief Advisor - Safety and Regulation.

The Ministry of Health has been testing Ecstasy, seized by the New Zealand Police and Customs, since August 1999 as part of the National Drug Policy. There has been no evidence of strychnine found in the tablets seized to date, although this could be due to the small size of the sample, or maybe the adulterated tablets have yet to make it to New Zealand. However, a wide variety of substances including caffeine and ketamine, anaesthetic medicine also used as an animal tranquilliser, have been found.

Ecstasy use has been increasing and the Ministry has undertaken this testing to better determine the public health dangers associated with this drug, said Dr Boyd.

The analysis, carried out by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR), provides details of all active ingredients, weight, purity and drug quantity.

The Dutch sample in which strychnine was found was seized on January 28. The tablet was yellow in colour with dark brown flecks and had no logo. It had a diameter of 9mm and a thickness of 4.4mm.

Testing of Ecstasy in will continue until the project ends in August. By then the Ministry expects to have a clearer picture of the public health dangers posed by Ecstasy. The Ministry has also released safety guidelines for dance party goers and promoters. Copies of these are available by calling (04) 496-2277.


For more information contact: Rebecca Wilson, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2067, pager: 025-495-989 Internet address:

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Joseph Cederwall Review: NZSO Plays Bach And Ellington

The NZSO’s Shed Series returned for 2019 with the aptly titled REBIRTH at Shed 6 on Friday 8th. This theme dealt with the way in which music constantly evolves and changes, with styles and musical periods reborn in completely new and different ways. More>>

Howard Davis Review: Voulez-Vous Couchez Avec Moi? - C'est Chic, Ça Colette!

Starring the ravishingly vibrant Keira Knightley in the title role, Colette is a fairly pedestrian paint-by numbers biopic - which is a little disappointing, given that its cross-dressing and pansexual protagonist lead anything but a dull life. More>>

Wellington Repertory Theatre: New Season Includes Royal Hunt of The Sun

“The objective behind our ambitious 2019 season is to expand our offering to a broader range of Wellingtonians. It’s the first time in over a decade that we’ve produced four shows, and the first time we will be performing at the Hannah Payhouse,” says Oliver Mander, WRT’s President. More>>

Howard Davis Review: The Revenants - They Shall Not Grow Old

Jackson has toiled laboriously in the trenches of the digital revolution for decades, with his two turgid Tolkien trilogies constantly pushing the envelope in terms of computer-generated entertainment and providing his latest project with sufficient combat experience to warrant serious Oscar consideration for its remarkable technical achievements. More>>

Unseen Let It Be Footage: Peter Jackson Making "The Ultimate Beatles Film"

Jackson's new film will be compiled from fifty-five hours of never-released studio footage of The Beatles recording their final album Let It Be in January 1969. More>>

NZCT Grants More Than $150,000 to Community Sports

NZCT has approved grants to the Tauranga Boxing Academy, provided a new lease of life to old yachts, benefitted sports at Tiniroto School, and helped to upgrade Christchurch City BMX Club track. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland