Pubdate: Thu, 05 Mar 2015
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2015 The Calgary Sun
Author: Bill Kaufmann
Page: 16


Officials Report Falling Fatalities From PMMA Use

The war against a toxic street stimulant that recently killed dozens 
in western Canada is bearing fruit, say those waging it.

Between 2011 and 2012, the ingestion of paramethoxymethamphetamine 
(PMMA) claimed 27 lives in Alberta and B.C. - 20 of those in Alberta 
- - an unheard of toll, said Dr. Mark Yarema of Alberta Health Services.

"This was an unprecedented outbreak and it required a fairly rapid 
and multi-disciplinary response," said Yarema, the AHS's medical 
director of poison and drug information. "If the show Breaking Bad 
was about methamphetamines, the show about PMMA would be called 
Breaking Worse."

But since then, only one person has died at the hands of the drug - 
known as Dr. Death - in Alberta.

Authorities credit a rise in public awareness due to collaboration 
between law enforcement and health experts for the decline.

Those efforts also included the largest case study of its kind into 
the ravages of the synthetic amphetamine PMMA, which sparks higher 
blood pressure, heart rate and warming of the body that can prove fatal.

But Yarema said the drug's threat has not disappeared, noting in 
2013-14 there were six recorded PMMA cases in southern Alberta.

"We're better at recognizing it and no one else had died but the 
problem remains ... PMMA has not gone away," he said.

Media reports, educational efforts and a keener medical response have 
blunted the impact of the drug ingested by people who believe they 
were taking the stimulant ecstasy (MDMA), or cocaine, says the AHS.

When the outbreak occurred in 2011-12, city police made seven 
arrests, four of them for trafficking in PMMA, said Det. Collin Harris.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom