Benzylpiperazine a 'new drug of abuse'

Professor Alison Jones said benzylpiperazine was a 'new drug of abuse' which could have serious clinical effects - similar to those of ecstasy to which it is structurally related.

The finding appears in a paper co-authored by Professor Jones in this week's edition of the prestigious international medical journal , The Lancet.

In the paper Professor Jones from the University of Newcastle and her toxicology colleagues, from Guy's and St Thomas, Hospital in London and St Georges, Hospital London Drug Testing Laboratory, show for the first time the presence of a new drug of abuse , benzylpiperazine.

Professor Jones said while benzylpiperazine was prohibited in Australia, the drug was readily available in the United Kingdom.

"This drug is currently unrestricted in the UK. Its availability and detection in patients in the UK who have come to harm, raises significant issues of clinical problems and access," said Professor Jones. Now in Australia, Professor Jones has joined the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute as Professor of Medicine and Clinical Toxicology. She is also a clinician at the Newcastle Mater Hospital and responsible for providing education and toxicology advice to clinicians.

Professor Jones comes to Newcastle from Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London, where she was formerly the Director of the National Poisons Information Service. She brings with her a wealth of experience in clinical medicine, teaching and research.

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