Dire warning over ‘SpongeBob’ party drug

Undated : Generic photo of ecstasy pills
An urgent health warning has been issued for ecstasy pills containing four times the amount of MDMA in regular pills.

An urgent health warning has been issued over high-dose party drug tablets – some depicting the fictional character SpongeBob SquarePants – circulating in NSW.

Three types of the tablets, which contain up to twice the average amount of MDMA usually found in ecstasy tablets, have been found by health authorities.

Two include blue tablets with distinctive Punisher and MYBRAND logos that contain 216mg of MDMA each.

Multiple types of high dose MDMA (ecstasy) tablets have recently been found in NSW.
Three types of high-dose MDMA pills are circulating in NSW, health authorities have warned. Picture: Supplied

The third, a yellow tablet with smiley face markings similar to the fictional character SpongeBob SquarePants, contains 160mg of MDMA.

In a statement, NSW Health said other drugs including cathinones, ketamine and ketamine analogues had been detected in MDMA tablets and capsules.

“The amount of MDMA in a tablet or capsule can vary a lot, even within the same batch,” NSW Poisons Information Centre medical director Darren Roberts said.

“The health risks from MDMA are greatly increased if high amounts (including multiple doses) are consumed over a short period.”

In September, a similar warning was issued for another batch of ecstasy pills featuring a Gucci logo.

The ‘Gucci’ logo pills were found with more than four times the average dose.
The ‘Gucci’ logo pills were found with more than four times the average dose. Picture: Supplied

Those pills contained up to four times the amount of MDMA found in regular tablets.

Dr Roberts said MDMA could cause severe agitation, raised body temperature, seizures or fits, irregular heart rhythm and death.

He urged anyone who had taken drugs and felt unwell to phone triple-0.

“Hot environments, such as at music festivals, increase the risk of harm from MDMA,” Dr Roberts said.

“Taking a break from dancing, seeking shade, and drinking water are important measures to reduce the risk of overheating.

“There are teams of well-trained peer volunteers from programs such as DanceWize NSW and medical providers who are ready to support you at many major festivals. Other event staff are also trained to help patrons.”

Earlier this year a man died after a suspected drug overdose at the Transmission Music Festival in February.

More than 130 people were treated for heat exhaustion and drug use at the same event.

A 2022 report on drug trends in Australia found ecstasy use had declined over the previous year, sliding from 95 per cent in 2021 to 88 per cent in 2022.