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Cathinone C86 identified as eutylone

The substance found and alerted by KnowYourStuffNZ in testing earlier this month, previously known only as C86, has now been identified as eutylone.

Eutylone, also known as bk-EBDB or n-ethylbutylone, is a stimulant in the cathinone family (sometimes called “bath salts”). It was first synthesised in the 1960s and first reported to  European Early Warning Systems in 2014. Reports of recreational use began to appear about 2 years ago.

KnowYourStuffNZ detected the first sample of this substance in December 2018. We have detected three samples of eutylone this year, in locations from upper North Island to lower South Island. All were obtained as MDMA, and were described as a white powder that tends to clump together – however it may also be around in other formats. Anecdotal reports from NZers who have used this substance thinking it was MDMA suggest it may be responsible for several hospitalisations.

In the absence of a spectrometer, reagents can be used to test for the presence of eutylone. Testing with the Marquis reagent will give a yellow/orange colour, and the Mandelin reagent turns a muddy greenish-brown. Meanwhile if a substance contains MDMA, both Marquis and Mandelin reagents will turn black. It is important to note that other cathinones have been found mixed with MDMA, so a positive test result for MDMA does not mean a substance is unadulterated.

Eutylone is not well researched and very little information about it is available. The following information has been put together from a combination of user reports, safety data sheets, and references in scientific journals.

Dosage:

Oral doses of between 35mg and 150mg have been reported, however the average dose is reported as 60-100mg. 150mg was described as ‘very intense’.

Duration

4-6 hours

Effects

The effects are described as subtle, calming, social, serotonergic (loved up), euphoric, and not particularly stimulating.

Sensations of physical warmth and tingling were described in several reports. One user reported feeling unusual heart activity.

Dangers/negatives

Users reported redose compulsion, with most redosing every 1-2 hours.  Because this is a stimulant, repeated redosing can lead to restlessness and insomnia, and eventually psychosis if the user does not sleep.

Safety Data Sheet information suggests it may be irritating to mucous membranes.

Users have reported raised heartbeats, and as it constricts blood vessels this substance can also raise blood pressure and cause numb or cold extremities.

Eutylone has been identified as present in one death in the US, however the victim had also taken fentanyl and thus the role of eutylone in the death is not clear.

Harm reduction information

Avoid snorting this substance.

Avoid taking with other stimulants (eg cocaine or MDMA), dissociatives (eg ketamine, DXM, or GHB/GBL), or alcohol.

If you intend to take eutylone, be aware that it is a very new substance with little confirmed information available, and therefore approach with extreme caution. Take only a fraction of the expected dose and wait at least an hour before taking more.

Always make sure a trusted person knows what you are doing.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, racing heart, or numbness in the extremities, seek medical help and be honest about what you have taken.

Dunedin cathinone capsule

KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded entirely by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.

ALERT: White powder in clear capsules containing unknown cathinone C86

UPDATE Saturday 19.00: After more analysis we believe this is not n-ethylpentylone as previously stated. It appears to be an unknown cathinone that we’re calling “C86”. The harm reduction advice remains the same – treat with caution. This substance is so new that we do not know of the health risks.

Original alert: N-ethylpentylone found in powder obtained as MDMA

KnowYourStuffNZ tested pills in Dunedin today and found a particularly dangerous substance called n-ethylpentylone an unknown cathinone that we’re calling “C86”.
Two samples of white powder in clear capsules from different sources were tested and each contained a mixture of n-ethylpentylone and ethylone this single substance. We have seen this substance previously at a summer event in the North Island.

N-ethylpentylone C86 is a stimulant from the cathinone family, also called “bath salts”. It may produce short-lived euphoria followed by a long period of overstimulation including racing heart, high blood pressure, anxiety, overheating, and inability to sleep for up to 36 hours. Cathinones have been associated with deaths overseas and hospitalisations in New Zealand. Because of the high redose compulsion and low active dose, it is very easy to overdose. You can read more about n-ethylpentylone at our website. We called it “this summer’s crap drug“. We don’t know what C86 is exactly, other than that it’s a cathinone and fairly similar in chemical structure to n-ethylpentylone.

The identified pills are medium sized clear capsules containing a chalky white powder that clumps together.

When tested with Marquis reagent the samples turned orange and with Mandelin they turned dark orange. These colour changes indicate a cathinone.

Testing with the more reliable FT-IR spectroscopy suggests these pills contain a mixture of of n-ethylpentylone and ethylone an unknown cathinone which we are calling C86 that is similar to n-ethylpentylone. The amount of n-ethylpentylone C86 present may vary between pills. Alternatively, this may be a new and unknown cathinone. Yup, it’s a new one alright.

It is possible that These pills have spread throughout New Zealand, being seen by KnowYourStuffNZ from one of the country to the other, therefore any substance that looks similar to this should be treated as dangerous regardless of your location.

N-ethylpentylone has been detected in powders and pills of various colours. In total, approximately 15% of “MDMA” tested over New Years was found to contain n-ethylpentylone.

Please approach all untested substances with extreme caution. C86 has not, to our knowledge, been seen before and there is no information about safety, dosage, risks, and interactions with other drugs. We recommend avoiding this.
– safest of all, do not take it
– if consuming, start small, start slow – take a third or less, and wait at least an hour before having more
– do not snort or inject
– do not mix with other substances, including alcohol
– do not take alone


If you think you may have inadvertently consumed n-ethylpentylone a cathinone and are concerned, please contact your nearest medical service and be honest about what you believe you have taken.

KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded entirely by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.

KnowYourStuffNZ’s submission on the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill

On the reclassification of AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-ADB as Class A drugs

Reclassification of substances to increase penalties associated with their use and supply has historically failed to reduce either use or harm.  In this case, because the community most affected by these substances is already marginalised, the reclassification is likely to hurt them more, by increasing stigma, making it harder to seek treatment, and increasing the negative effects of any convictions associated with drug use.

The law that this classification system supports is inadequate and the classification system itself is flawed, therefore it is our view that adding further substances to this is an inappropriate response to drug harm.  We do not support this amendment, and would suggest that a full review of the Misuse of Drugs Act to align it with evidence and the government’s intended health-based approach to drugs would be more effective.

 On discretion around prosecutions for use and possession of all drugs

While moving from a presumption of prosecution to a presumption of non-prosecution with an onus on prosecutors to prove public interest is an improvement on the current situation, we have some concerns. Our main concern is that police discretion has historically been applied unequally, and that the benefits of this change will not reach those who most need it -the poor and marginalised who are currently subjected to the harshest policing.

Additionally, it is our view that the role of the police is to enforce the law, not to interpret it.  Therefore, the law they are required to enforce should be clear enough to be applied equally to all situations. Police should not be required to exercise discretion.

If drugs are an issue of public health, they should be clearly treated as such by the law. This amendment goes some way to acknowledging this, but should only be considered as an interim measure until a full review of the MoDA is implemented.

We support this amendment with reservations.

On the new temporary drug class

We do not consider that the addition of a new class to a flawed system will reduce either use or harm associated with new psychoactive substances. Historically when new drugs have been classified, manufacturers have responded by making more new drugs.  This has led to increased harm as the new substances are generally more potent and less well researched. The new class will make classification faster, however that will most likely only encourage a faster cycle of new drugs emerging.

As an organisation that exists to address the harms associated with illicit drugs and which came into being in a large part because of the dangers of new psychoactive substances, we cannot support a system that encourages the development of more new drugs.

We do not support this amendment, and again recommend that the MoDA undergo a full review to refocus drug legislation away from the minutiae of criminalisation and instead to enable pragmatic and public health focused harm reduction measures.

KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded entirely by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.

 

Survey of KYSNZ clients shows that users of drug checking services take harm reduction advice on board

by Andrea Knox, Evaluation Consultant

KnowYourStuffNZ is driven by evidence. For the last few years we’ve been recording our drug checking results, reporting those results publicly, and using them to improve our processes and advocacy.

But while we have a lot of evidence about the substances we find and the decisions people make about those substances, we don’t have a lot of data about who we’re reaching. What kinds of people use our services, how do they feel about it, and what experiences have they had with drugs previously?

n-ethylpentylone

This year, to answer those questions, we surveyed people while they queued for testing. Many thanks to our super-smart volunteer who suggested this approach!

We ran a 10-question survey on a tablet using SurveyAnyplace (which has an offline mode that ran seamlessly, even way out the back of wherethefuckarewe). We also developed what we called a “stories box”, into which people could post handwritten descriptions of their experiences with drugs and drug checking. Both activities were optional and anonymous.

What did we find out? You can see our full report on the Our Results page . Here are some key points.

  • The people we reach are young, but not as young as you might assume. Half were under 25, half over 25, and one in 20 were 45 or older.
  • We are reaching new people – 82% of our clients saw us for the first time this year.
  • We are reaching people who have no prior experience with drug health or harm reduction services – 89% said that KnowYourStuffNZ was their first contact with such a service.
  • A worryingly high proportion of people – 75% of our clients, have had experiences with taking drugs that were not what they were supposed to be. Experiences range from unpleasant: “stayed awake to long”, to very serious: “Ambulance had to be called”.
  • We seem to be making a longer term difference to how people approach drugs. 87% of people who had previously used our services said that their approach to taking drugs had changed as a result. People said that they were more motivated to test drugs and less willing to take risks. Interestingly, people didn’t say that they were unaware of drug-associated risks before seeing us. No-one said: I just didn’t know drugs could be so risky! Their comments show that they were already aware of risk, but thought they had to accept this when choosing to take drugs. KnowYourStuffNZ has demonstrated that risks can be mitigated and don’t have to be accepted.
  • There is a great deal of support for drug checking among the people who use our services. We already knew that because they tell us this when we meet them, but it was lovely to see so many positive comments about our work and calling for greater support of drug checking in New Zealand.
  • And then there was this comment, which moved KnowYourStuffNZ’s Managing Director to tears and made us realise that all the hard work was worth it: “You saved someone’s life tonight”.
KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded entirely by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.

Where to from here?

Early in the New Year, Police Minister Hon Stuart Nash, speaking about drug checking at festivals, said “I think they’re a fantastic idea and should be installed at all our festivals.” While this was met with cautious optimism from those seeking reform, not everyone was celebrating. An editorial in the NZ Herald raised the concern that “Testing drugs for safety can send the wrong message”. Nearly everyone agreed that we need to understand the implications before proceeding.

As the leaders of KnowYourStuffNZ, the organisation providing drug safety testing at music festivals, we would like to reassure everyone that few young people care about what message the government, or the NZ Herald, is sending about drug use. Festival-goers will continue to use drugs regardless.

KnowYourStuffNZ sends a message that festival-goers do care about, with every test we perform. The message: we don’t want people to die and we trust our clients to make safer decisions with the information we give them. People listen to our message and the results from our work are clear. When people have drugs that are contaminated or more dangerous than expected, the majority will not take them and many will destroy their drugs in front of us. For an endorsement our results, ask the medics at festivals we attend. Every single one will say how thankful they are for our service and how obvious it is that we are reducing drug-related harms.

Moralising doesn’t change people’s behaviour. Respect, useful information, and a non-judgemental stance does.

Despite their qualms, the NZ Herald rightly asks the important question – “Exactly how are these drug-testing stations at music festivals going to work?” We’ve been asking ourselves this question too and we look forward to open and evidence-based consideration of the following matters:

The legal situation for testing services needs to be clarified. For instance, we only require a tiny amount (much less than a pill) for testing. It’s never returned to the client as that would be the crime of supply. We’re fine with that. However, we would like to be allowed to be in possession of a substance so that we could take a sample away for laboratory analysis. Currently we can’t do that. We have already seen one new cathinone this summer that we could not identify using our field FT-IR spectrometer. Using a fully-equipped lab, it could have been identified.

The liability of testing services needs to be set. For instance, we never describe a sample as “safe”, as every substance has risks (except maybe the pill that was mostly toothpaste). We never describe a sample as “not contaminated”, as every testing method has limits on what it will detect. We already provide warnings about the specific drugs identified and advice on safer behaviour as a part of the testing process. Despite this, there will still be harms from drug use, even for people who have used a testing service, just are there are for any health service.

Our service and other harm reduction developments should be linked. The Government is introducing a drug early warning system, where Police, Customs, and District Health Boards provide alerts about dangerous drugs. We’ve been doing this for several years now – our January warning on n-ethylpentylone reached over 80,000 people. So how will this system work? Is everyone working in this space willing to share information? We hope so.

The required quality of testing services should be decided. We don’t want a repeat of the methamphetamine scam where any cowboy could set up testing. Right now there is no accreditation for testing services, and no formal training or qualifications for volunteers. For example, what equipment is suitable? We think that the laser spectrometers used by police at Rhythm and Vines are too likely to give false readings, whereas the FT-IR spectrometers we use are much better at distinguishing substances and mixtures. However, our spectrometers cost more than twice as much, so we can see the temptation to use cheaper equipment.

There’s also a discussion to be had about how this is funded. Currently, we are funded entirely by donations. This isn’t sustainable if, as the Police Minister Stuart Nash suggests, testing should be at all large summer festivals. That’s a major scale-up. We have been lucky to be gifted the use of our testing equipment by the New Zealand Drug Foundation, but a spectrometer runs to $50,000. That’s not possible for a volunteer-run organisation. There are a range of business models possible, from public funding as for the NZ Needle Exchange Programme, support from the Criminal Proceeds Fund, to festivals paying and on-charging in the ticket price just as they do for the portaloos. What funding model will be the best fit with this service? We don’t know yet.

To be fair, drug safety testing is an evolving field with different models used in different countries. We are working with groups in the UK and Australia to develop best practice and are happy to learn from groups in Europe who have been testing drugs for nearly twenty years.

We look forward to discussing these questions as the Government puts in place legislation to enable us to operate openly. It is in everyone’s interests to make sure that drug-testing stations at music festivals do work.

KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded entirely by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.