1 Aug 2017

Tenth death linked to synthetic drug use

5:52 pm on 1 August 2017

Police found the body of a 47-year-old man in a central Auckland hostel last Friday and said his death may be linked to synthetic drug use.

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Photo: AFP

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne met with Auckland police and the Chief Coroner Deborah Marshall today, who Mr Dunne said confirmed the tenth death.

He said they all want to find out what is actually in the drug.

"We're all in the same boat in a way, we're all desperate to find out the combination of substances involved," he said. "Samples have been sent from the people who have died so far, to the relevant authorities for testing and we're all awaiting the results of those tests."

Mr Dunne, who earlier had criticized the police for being slow to inform the government about synthetic drugs, said the police have agreed share any new information as soon as they get it.

He said it was important that the public understood that synthetic drugs were illegal and he was warning the people to avoid it.

Mr Dunne said tackling the issue of synthetic substances would take a co-ordinated effort.

"We've got teams of health professionals meeting around this issue in terms of what they can do...by responding to patients," he said.

"The police are conducting their own investigations into the possible sources of supply...and the coroner will be doing her work in time to assess the cause of death and whether these substances played a significant part in that."

Last week, St John said that it was seeing as many as 20 cases a day linked to synthetic substances.

However it said that has since decreased to about six cases a day over the weekend.

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