News National Two festival goers taken to hospital after dangerous pill warning and drug death
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Two festival goers taken to hospital after dangerous pill warning and drug death

falls festival
The Falls Festival at Lorne in 2015. Photo: AAP
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Two men have been taken to hospital with suspected drug reactions at a summer festival in Victoria, after a 22-year-old man died at a separate event in New South Wales.

A 21-year-old man was rushed to Dandenong Hospital from Beyond The Valley festival at Lardner, south east of Melbourne, about 7am on Monday.

Victoria Police said he is in a serious but non-life threatening condition.

Another man in his 20s was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a critical condition on Saturday by air ambulance.

On Sunday, Falls Festival took the rare step of describing an “extremely dangerous” pill that could be circulating at its events at Lorne, Byron Bay, Fremantle and Marion Bay.

“Although we’ve had a safe Falls Festival to date, our medical teams have alerted us to a dangerous orange pill that is currently in circulation across Australia,” festival organisers wrote on Facebook.

“Regardless of pill variation, we want to remind everyone of the potentially fatal risks that come with illicit substances.”

Although we’ve had a safe Falls Festival to date, our medical teams have alerted us to a dangerous orange pill that is…

Posted by Falls Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, December 29, 2018

The festival also sent out an alert message describing the orange pill to attendees with the event app.

In the UK, pill testing providers at The Loop send out alerts if they come across a drug of concern. That could include drugs that have been mis-sold, have contaminants, or are an unusually high dosage.

NSW Police have warned festival-goers to steer clear of drugs at the Field Day festival in Sydney on New Year’s Day.

It comes after a 22-year-old Queensland man was rushed from Lost Paradise festival at Glenworth Valley to Gosford Hospital, where he died a short time later.

Two more young people were taken to hospital after taking “unknown substances” at the Lost Paradise festival.

NSW Police said some people tried to smuggle in drugs through “sophisticated” methods, including in the stuffing of a barbecue chicken and makeshift compartments in Vegemite jars.

The man’s death is the second in a month at NSW festivals.

A 19-year-old man died and three other people fell critically ill at the Knockout Games of Destiny event at Sydney Olympic Park earlier in December.

falls festival drug warning
Falls Festival attendees received a warning about the drug in the smart phone app.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly ruled out pill testing.

NSW Labor has promised to hold a drug summit if elected in March, and Opposition Leader Michael Daley on Monday reaffirmed he would be open to hearing the evidence for pill testing.

The Ted Noffs Foundation’s Take Control campaign on Sunday pleaded with Ms Berejiklian to reconsider her stance.

“Decades of a punitive approach where we arrest young people has not worked,” chief executive officer Matt Noffs said in a statement.

Mr Noffs said pill testing was not a “silver bullet” but said it was a practical step to making events safer.

What is pill testing?

The Australian-first pill testing trial at Canberra’s Groovin The Moo festival earlier this year, allowed by the ACT government, caught two potentially deadly samples.

Punters brought their drugs to the STA-SAFE laboratory tent, where medical staff and chemists took a sample for analysis.

Information on the purity of the drug and its contents was then provided to the users, who were reminded of the inherent risks of drug taking.

An amnesty bin was on site for drugs to be voluntarily ditched and destroyed.

Of the 85 substances sampled, half were pure MDMA and half had been cut with products, such as sweetener and paint. Two of the samples were potentially deadly.

Falls Festival Patron Safety Hotline Numbers
Lorne: 1300 322 441
Marion Bay: 1300 899 440
Byron Bay: 1300 940 928

Family Drug Support support line: 1300 368 186

-with AAP

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