Police fear dangerous drug which hospitalised nine people in Tyneside could be circulating in County Durham

The Northern Echo: Durham Police Durham Police

POLICE have issued a region-wide warning over a dangerous drug which left nine people in hospital earlier this week.

The casualties were hospitalised after taking the drug, which they believed was ecstasy, at a house in Jesmond, Newcastle, on Monday.

There are fears that the drug may also be circulating in County Durham, prompting Durham Police to issue a warning to those living in its force area to avoid the drug and report any information they may have about the tablets.

The pills are described as bright blue and the size of paracetemol tablets with a cross or an 'x' marked on them.

Tests revealed the tablets contained PMA and not ecstasy - a more dangerous substance which has greater side effects than the Class A drug.

The tablets have been known to lead to fatalities.

In a statement issued by Northumbria Police, released through the Durham force, Detective Chief Inspector Ged Noble said: "Anyone thinking of taking any drug, particularly this tablet, should not.

“PMA has particularly nasty side effects and can lead to fatal overdoses even in small quantities.

"If anyone thinks they have taken this drug they should seek immediate medical attention."

One of the men, aged in his 20s, who took the drug on Monday suffered serious side effects and remains in hospital, where he is described as being very ill.

Another man was detained in hospital but has since been released after treatment.

The remaining people were all examined and released from hospital.

They were subsequently arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug and released on bail.

PMA is similar to MDMA – the chemical found in ecstasy – and is sometimes sold as ecstasy, but can kill at lower doses than MDMA.

It can cause a fatal rise in body temperature.

Police are urging anyone with any concerns about the tablets, or with any information about their supply, to call 101, or in an emergency where a life is in danger, call 999.

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