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Tainted Ecstasy Links Investigated In Vancouver Deaths

A toxin found in the blood of ecstasy victims in Calgary has turned up in a recent death in B.C., says Dr. Perry Kendall, the provincial health officer.

The toxin — Paramethoxymethamphetamine, or PMMA — is type of methamphetamine not usually associated with the drug sold under the name ecstasy.

Calgary police said PMMA has been linked to five recent ecstasy-related deaths in that city.

Kendall said Thursday tests confirm PMMA was involved in one of four recent B.C. cases.

Authorities are now reviewing old cases to see if more exist, Kendall said.

Officials in Vancouver said earlier they were awaiting the toxicology results from two of the recent overdose deaths on Friday.

Dr. Mark Yarema, medical director of the province’s Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS), said while they can look similar, there are important differences between ecstasy and methamphetamine.

“Although all have toxic effects, PMMA is considered more toxic than MDMA, with a higher incidence of seizures and elevated body temperature.”

Methamphetamine can also be slower to act, prompting users to take several tablets to get the desired effect, he said.

Calgary Police are still investigating the source of the drugs taken in each of the deaths, but say most of the ecstasy in Calgary comes from the Vancouver area.

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