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Government Moves Quickly to Deal with Fantasy

13 January 2000

Government Moves Quickly to Deal with Fantasy

A DRUG commonly known as Fantasy was today classifed as a prescription medicine under the Medicines Act to prevent its growing abuse, Minister of Health, Annette King says.

Sodium oxybate, also known as Fantasy, GHB and Liquid X is a depressant drug originally developed as an anaesthetic. It can cause agitation, stiffening of muscles, convulsions, coma and respiratory collapse. People have died from it overseas. In New Zealand people have been hospitalised.

"Christchurch hospital has reported admitting eight people suffering the effects of Fantasy in the past six weeks. As it is a relatively new popular drug it was unclassified until now, and there was no way to take action against people manufacturing, selling it and using it.

"Since becoming aware of Fantasy in New Zealand health and law enforcement agencies have been working together to try and combat the problems it has caused. With this classification we are now in a better position to tackle abuse of the drug.

"Classifying it as a prescription medicine means that people in possession of Fantasy without a prescription will be liable for a maximum sentence of three months' imprisonment or a $500 fine.

"People possessing the drug for sale or dealing in the drug without a licence will be liable for a maxiumum sentence of six months' imprisonment or an $1000 fine.

"The Government will also consider classifying Fantasy under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 which would require a legislative change.

"One of the most dangerous aspects of Fantasy is that it is a fine line between the amount causing intoxication and that which leads to coma. Also, because there is no way of knowing its strength, there is the added danger of overdosing," Mrs King said.

ENDS

For more information contact; Sue McCabe, Media Advisor, Ministry of Health, 04 496 2067 or 025 495 989 Internet Address: http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

or John Harvey Press Secretary, 04 471 9305

(GHB) is otherwise known as Background Information Fantasy

Sodium oxybate or gamma-hydroxybutyrate

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