The BC Coroners Service confirms that paramethoxy-metamphetamine (PMMA) has been linked to five ecstasy-related deaths in B.C. in the past six months.
Three of the deceased were from the Lower Mainland, while the other two were from Vancouver Island. While the presence of PMMA was detected, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and other substances were also present in all five deaths, which are still under investigation. The deaths occurred in August, November and December 2011 and January 2012. Three of the deceased were males between the ages of 14 and 37. Two were females between the ages of 17 and 22. Results are not yet available for another recent death believed to be ecstasy-related.
PMMA is a rare drug, and one which has not been routinely tested for in BC coroners' investigations. Following information from Alberta that PMMA was detected in relation to several deaths in that province, toxicology findings were reviewed in all 16 of B.C.'s 2011 ecstasy-involved deaths and two 2012 deaths. PMMA was found in five cases. As with MDMA (ecstasy), there is no known safe dose of PMMA.
Though PMMA has been detected in five cases, it is important to note that there were 13 other ecstasy-related deaths in the same period that did not involve PMMA. The finding of PMMA in five recent cases confirms the danger that has always been associated with taking ecstasy: there is no guarantee of purity in a drug that is concocted for profit in a clandestine environment. Every ingestion of ecstasy is a risk.
The BC Coroners Service is working closely with the provincial medical health officer, health authorities, BC Centre for Disease Control, RCMP, Vancouver City Police and Abbotsford Police Department in relation to these deaths and in support of its public health and safety mission.
Additional information about BC Coroners Service findings regarding MDMA (ecstasy) related deaths from 2006-11 is available on the BC Coroners Service website: www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/coroners
For more information, please contact:
Chief Coroner, BC Coroners Service
Office: 604 660-7745