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Lay off the party pills - NZMA

NEW ZEALAND MEDICAL ASSOCIATION MEDIA RELEASE

FROM: Dr Ross Boswell, Chairman NZMA

DATE: Wednesday, 1 November 2006

SUBJECT: Lay off the party pills -- NZMA

“Even though party pills are legal, don’t take them.” That’s the message from the New Zealand Medical Association, regarding BZP-based party pills, because of growing doubts about their safety.

“If people insist on taking these pills, they should limit their use,” says NZMA Chairman Dr Ross Boswell. In particular:

- Do not take large doses - stay to the manufacturer's recommendation of one or two pills.

- Do not mix party pills with alcohol, other drugs or prescription medicines.

- People with a history of psychiatric illness should avoid taking BZP.

- BZP can affect workplace safety, so do not take them in a work environment.

Pills containing Benzylpiperazine (BZP) are often marketed as 'herbal party pills'. “There is nothing herbal about them,” said Dr Boswell. “BZP was developed as a drug to treat cattle for worms.”

These pills are legal at present in New Zealand, but their legal status is questioned and the Office of Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton has confirmed that more research will be released imminently.

In the meantime, while awaiting more evidence about BZP’s effects, the NZMA says the best option is for people not to take these pills at all.

The New Zealand Medical Journal reports that the serious side effects of BZP-based party pills includes severe agitation, seizures, paranoia, hyperthermia, abdominal pain, and cardiac arrhythmias.

A Christchurch study, published in the NZMJ, found that 61 patients presented on 80 occasions to the Emergency Department of Christchurch Hospital from April-August 2005. Patients with adverse effects had taken an average of 4.5 tablets/capsules. Patients experienced symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, and muscle spasms. Fifteen toxic seizures were recorded, and two patients suffered life-threatening conditions.

ENDS

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