Three drugs new to Australia found at pill testing site

A pill testing site in Canberra has discovered three never-before-seen substances in recreational drugs in Australia.
pill testing

A pill testing site in Canberra has discovered three never-before-seen substances in recreational drugs.

CanTEST said researchers identified the new psychoactive ingredients in samples of drugs brought by members of the community for testing.

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) said the substances are synthetic, meaning they are designed to mimic the effects of “established” drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD, ketamine, and MDMA.

Pill testing site

Pill testing is a harm reduction service aimed at helping people understand the ingredients and potential risks of a substance they plan to take.

The CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service is the first fixed-site pill testing service in Australia.

The service is free to use, and supported by the ACT Government. Some drug samples submitted to CanTEST are taken to ANU for further analysis.

New substances

ANU chemists discovered a potentially lethal substance in a stimulant drug derived from Ritalin (an ADHD medication) in a sample submitted to CanTEST.

The substance is a new derivative of cathinone — commonly referred to as ‘bath salts’.

Researchers said finding a new variant of ‘bath salts’ was concerning “because we don’t know how it will affect people or what the health consequences are.”

A new type of benzylpiperazine stimulant was also found, which can be used as a synthetic substitute for MDMA.

The third new substance is called propylphenidine, a stimulant drug from the same category as amphetamines, ice (methamphetamine), and MDMA.

It’s not yet known how dangerous these substances are, according to ANU.


Since July 2022, CanTEST has analysed over 1,700 samples. Within six months of opening, half of the drugs it tested contained ingredients the user was not expecting.

Researchers emphasised CanTEST’s pill testing capabilities to identify emerging drugs before they circulate in the “unregulated drug market”.

“This is potentially of huge public health importance.”

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