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Wednesday, 7 November, 2007

Chinese toy beads contain date-rape drug GHB

Chinese toys aren't , apparently. One toy, a kind of beads called Bindeez, also that metabolizes into the date-rape drug gammahydroxybutyrate (GHB), announced the Australian government today.

After three Australian children who swallowed the beads were hospitalized for seizures over the last two weeks, it was discovered that instead of the nontoxic chemical 1,5-pentanediol, the manufacturers had used 1,4-butanediol.

The drug information website Lycaeum has about the dangers of 1,4-butanediol, but you should generally take their writing with several grains of salt. Although the conclusion of their article is that people shouldn't use the drug, some of the writing may be suspect. The piece was written by someone who goes only as "Murple," after all. , "Adverse Events, Including Death, Associated with the Use of 1,4-Butanediol," is a better source. The authors wrote:

We identified nine episodes of toxic effects in eight patients who had ingested 1,4-butanediol recreationally, to enhance bodybuilding, or to treat depression or insomnia. One patient presented twice with toxic effects and had withdrawal symptoms after her second presentation. Clinical findings and adverse events included vomiting, urinary and fecal incontinence, agitation, combativeness, a labile level of consciousness, respiratory depression, and death. No additional intoxicants were identified in six patients, including the two who died. The doses of 1,4-butanediol ingested ranged from 5.4 to 20 g in the patients who died and ranged from 1 to 14 g in the nonfatal cases. In some cases there was evidence of addiction and withdrawal. [...]

The health risks of 1,4-butanediol are similar to those of its counterparts, -hydroxybutyrate and -butyrolactone. These include acute toxic effects, which may be fatal, and addiction and withdrawal.
Yet another imported product for parents to worry about. But Moose Enterprise, the Australian company responsible for importing the toxic beads, says it has a solution: coat the beads with , "the most bitter substance yet discovered," to make the beads "unpalatable." (The photo apparently depicts a child who's just tasted some Bitrex. Yuck.)

Update, November 8: Canada, too, has , called Aqua Dots, from the market over GHB concerns.


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