A near-fatal overdose of the dangerous party drug PMA has sparked a pre-Sleaze warning to ecstasy users.

St Vincent’s Hospital treated one man for a serious overdose and others displaying similar symptoms last weekend. All had taken the drug PMA, but believed they had taken ecstasy.

Dr Gordian Fulde from St Vincent’s told Sydney Star Observer the man came in unconscious, overheated and trying very hard to die.

The drug PMA was particularly dangerous, he said, because some of the normal treatments used to counter drug overdoses actually made the patient worse.

While St Vincent’s had treated only a small number of overdoses they could definitely say were related to PMA, there could have been others, as most people were unaware of what drug they had actually taken.

Dr Fulde advised partygoers who planned to take drugs this weekend to avoid mixing substances and stick with what they knew. He said emergency staff at St Vincent’s were, unfortunately, expecting a busy weekend.

Any time when the boys and girls party there’s always a sub-group that do dumb things, he said.

The weekend’s overdoses sparked ACON to release a warning about the reappearance of PMA.

PMA has been sold as ecstasy although it is considerably more powerful and has hallucinatory effects, ACON CEO Stevie Clayton said.

It appears that one of the problems with this drug is that the effects come on slowly and some people think it hasn’t worked, and therefore take more, resulting in overdose.

Symptoms of PMA overdose could include muscle spasms, increased temperature and blood pressure, increased pulse rate, laboured breathing, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, coma and death.

The drug is often called red killer, red death or red Mitsubishi because of a distinctive stamp sometimes found on the tablets.

PMA has appeared in Sydney’s nightclubs several times since the 1990s.

Sydney Star Observer columnist Paul Dillon from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre wrote in 2003 that PMA had caused deaths by overdose since the 1970s. Six people died in South Australia from taking PMA between 1995 and 1996 and users had died in Sydney and Perth. All believed they were taking ecstasy.

ACON has employed a large team of drug rovers to watch over partygoers at Saturday night’s Sleaze.

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