Pill Testing May Have Helped Avoid Melbourne Overdoses, Advocates Say
Electric Parade festival in Melbourne Australia recently suffered the 21 devastating fan overdoses. Could these incidents have been avoided if revelers had access to drug testing?This article originally appeared on Huffington Post Australia
Advocates for pill testing at Australian music festivals have reissued their calls for a trial program to be approved this year, after more than 20 people were hospitalised following suspected GHB overdoses at a Melbourne event over the weekend.
The future of the Electric Parade festival is reportedly in doubt, after 21 people were admitted to hospital following Saturday's event. Authorities believe many of those who fell ill had taken GHB, a depressant which usually comes in liquid form.
Besides the weekend incidents, there have been a number of drug-related deaths at Australian festivals and parties in recent months, including one man at a Queensland festival over New Year's Eve, two men on a party bus to a festival in Sydney in October, and three deaths and 20 hospitalisations on Melbourne's Chapel Street in January.
Emergency physician and drug expert Dr David Caldicott is among a group calling for a trial pill testing program to be rolled out at a music festival this year, where festival-goers would be able to have their substances checked and be given a detailed analysis of what is actually contained in their pill. Overdoses or bad reactions can occur when someone is sold a pill that they believe to be a certain substance, but it turns out to be something quite different, or contain cutting agents such as bleach or other poisons.
"We're working furiously on a couple of events. We still remain very optimistic, we're very much in negotiations with two jurisdictions, which have cautiously supported it," he told The Huffington Post Australia.