09/12/2014 10:05 EDT | Updated 11/12/2014 05:59 EST

Research drugs could lead to more overdoses, police warn

Toronto police have issued a public safety alert after two Etobicoke men accidentally overdosed on so-called 'research drugs' purchased legally online. 

Police said the drugs, which are available from a number of website in Ontario, are meant to mimic the physiological effects of illicit narcotics, such as cocaine and ecstasy.

The drugs are generally substances that are currently being researched for potential medical or industrial uses, but are not banned under the criminal code and are therefore sold and purchased legally. 

"We're duty bound to pull the alarm and educate parents," said Det. Roger Desrochers.

Toronto police are currently investigating the possibility of laying criminal charges against the online sites that distribute the drugs, but said it's too early to know if they are being manufactured in the province or simply sold here after being transported from elsewhere.

The CBC's Sue Sgambati spoke with police about their ongoing effort to investigate the sale and use of research drugs, and what can be done to prevent potential overdoses in the future.