Grandmother's plea over pill testing after teen's music festival death

Pressure is mounting on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to reconsider her position on pill testing after a fifth person died of a suspected overdose after taking drugs at a NSW music festival.

Central Coast teenager Alex Ross-King died after she was rushed from the FOMO festival at Parramatta Park to Westmead Hospital on Saturday night.

Her death was the fifth suspected overdose death in NSW since mid-September.

“Premier please can we have this pill testing done,” Ms Ross-King’s grandmother, Denise Doig, told Network Ten on Sunday.

“It’s such a small thing to do. It’s not hard (and) if it saves one life – one life is a life.”

Alexandra Ross-King, 19, died from a suspected drug overdose at FOMO musical festival in Sydney. Source: 7 News
Pressure is mounting on the premier to reconsider her position on pill testing after a fifth person died of a suspected overdose after taking drugs at a NSW music festival. Image: Getty

Ms Ross-King’s uncle Phil Clark implored of Ms Berejiklian: “Strong leadership isn’t always about sticking to an ideological decision or a position.”

But the Liberal leader is defiantly telling teens to simply say “no” to drugs.

“We need to keep setting out the strongest message that taking these illicit drugs kills… we ask young people not to do it,” the premier said on Sunday.

Speaking to Sunrise on Monday morning, Ms Berejklian argued there was no consistent evidence that pill testing worked.

“If pill testing would prevent deaths, of course, we would bring it in but the best thing we can do is improve access to medical attention at these festivals,” she said.

“For every experts that says it does work, there is another one who says it doesn’t.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian argued with Sunrise host David Koch that there’s no evidence that pill testing works. Image: 7 News

Doctors groups and medical academics are increasingly demanding trials in Australia while pointing to harm reduction in countries where testing is available such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain and France.

Noffs Foundation chief executive Matt Noffs says the premier must listen.

“‘Just say no’ is a miserable failure – it simply doesn’t work,” he said in a statement.

“I understand the premier is in a tough position but I need her to listen to me right now. We are the experts.”

“We know the evidence. The evidence is clear – this will save lives.”

Pill testing allows people to anonymously submit samples for on-the-spot analysis to determine their composition.

A trial at a major Australian music festival in 2016 found two in three people wouldn’t consume a pill if a test showed it contained methamphetamine.

with AAP