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Submission by Andre Menache to the NZ public consultation
on the Psychoactive Substances Bill.
Submitted by Andre Menache BSc(Hons) BVSc MRCVS
Brief CV;
The decision on whether to legalise or ban the use of party pills should take into account
current knowledge regarding the known human health effects of these substances. The main
active ingredients of legal party pills are benzylpiperazine (BZP) and
trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine (TFMPP).
A considerable body of human clinical evidence about their effects already exists, as will be
detailed in the points below. Also relevant to this discussion is the evidence upon which a
toxicological evaluation should be based. For example, experimental animal data (rats, dogs,
monkeys) cannot be considered to be predictive for humans. The fact that animal models
cannot predict human outcome is based on empirical evidence and well established principles
of evolutionary biology and complex systems [1, 2].
1. The report entitled "Legal party pill use in New Zealand" published by the
Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE)
Massey University Auckland New Zealand states:
"Nearly nine out of 10 legal party pill users said they use other substances with their legal
party pills. The most common substance used with legal party pills was alcohol, followed by
tobacco and cannabis." See Table 2.3 for details [3].
The common practice of consuming "chemical cocktails" rather than party pills on their own,
makes human clinical evaluation and hospital records the most reliable means of assessing the
toxic effects of these substances.
2. Party pills are already known to be nephrotoxic to humans, based on hospital
admissions [4].
3. The review article by Elliott entitled "Current awareness of piperazines: pharmacology and
toxicology" describes many of the reported human toxic effects of party pills, which include
anxiety, cardiac symptoms (e.g. tachycardia) and sometimes seizures. Piperazines
are primarily metabolised by cytochrome P450 [5]. Important species differences
exist between mouse, rat, dog, monkey and humans with respect to cytochromemediated drug metabolism, inhibition and induction, as documented by Martignoni et
al [6].
4. Multi-organ failure has also been reported following BZP toxicity and hospital admission
[7]. The mechanism of action and toxicokinetics of BZP toxicity in human patients have
recently been documented and described by Schep et al [8].
5. Additional human studies include the following: "In vivo interactions between BZP
and TFMPP (party pill drugs) authored by Antia et al [9]; "Randomised double-blind,
placebo-controlled trial of the effects of the 'party pills' BZP/TFMPP alone and in
combination with alcohol" authored by Thompson et al [10]; and
"Pharmacokinetics of 'party pill' drug N-benzylpiperazine (BZP) in healthy human
participants" [11].
In summary, there currently exists a significant body of HUMAN data describing the
pharmacological and toxicological effects of BZP, alone and in combination with other
substances. Additional human data could be obtained through the application of
"omics" technologies and human biomarkers using human blood and urine samples.
The use of animal models to study the human health effects of party pills would
represent a "return to the middle ages" in an age of evidence based toxicology and in
light of all the above information.