Pharmaceutical quality of "party pills" raises additional safety concerns in the use of illicit recreational drugs

Simon A. Young, Thilini R. Thrimawithana, Ushtana Antia, John D. Fredatovich, Yonky Na, Peter T. Neale, Amy F. Roberts, Huanyi Zhou, Bruce Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim To determine the content and release kinetics of 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP) and 1-(3-trifluoromethyl-phenyl)piperazine (TFMPP) from "party pill" formulations. From these data, the possible impact of pharmaceutical quality upon the safety of such illicit formulations may be inferred. Methods The amount of BZP and TFMPP in party pill formulations was determined using a validated HPLC method. The in-vitro release kinetics of selected party pill brands were determined using a USP dissolution apparatus (75 rpm, 37.5°C). The release data were then fitted to a first order release model using PLOT software and the time taken to achieve 90% release reported. Results Many of the tested party pill brands contained amounts of BZP and TFMPP that varied considerably from that stated on the packaging; including considerable TFMPP content in some brands not labelled to contain this drug. Dissolution studies revealed that there was considerable variability in the release kinetics between brands; in one case 90% release required >30 minutes. Conclusion Lack of quality control in party pill manufacture may have led to the toxic effects reported by users unaware of the true content and release of drug from pills. More stringent regulation in the manufacture and quality control of "new generation party pills" is essential to the harm reduction campaign.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
JournalNew Zealand Medical Journal
Issue number1376
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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