The West

FIFO worker naive about net drug
Mark Dahlenburg. Picture: Supplied.

State Coroner Alastair Hope says a 41-year-old man who died from taking a stimulant powder he bought over the internet was "naive" and not alert to the dangers of the substance.

Mr Hope handed down his findings today into the April 2011 death of Busselton fly-in fly-out worker Mark Andrew Dahlenburg, who suffered a brain hemorrhage after mixing in dimethylamylamine, known as DMAA, into his beer at a workmate's house in Bunbury.

The father of two had purchased 35g of DMAA, found in dietary and sport supplements and originally developed as a nasal decongestant, over the internet for $200.

Within 20 to 30 minutes of taking it, he started sweating profusely, vomiting repeatedly and complaining of a migraine.

His friend Justin Guglielmana said Mr Dahlenburg was reluctant to go to hospital started to feel better and told him to go out while he slept it off. When Mr Guglielmana returned early the next morning Mr Dahlenburg was dead on the back patio.

The inquest this week was told DMAA is known to be used by body builders as well as mining workers and it is not detected in routine workplace urine drug tests. Anecdotally, it is also said to have amphetamine-like effects.

Mr Hope found Mr Dahlenburg's death was caused by DMAA by way of accident. He said if the powder was pure and loosely packed Mr Dahlenburg could have taken up to 1000mg - which is 40 times the recommended dosage in instructions sent with the substance.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration yesterday banned the sale, supply and use of DMAA, effective from August 8. It classed it as an appendix C substance, in which the substance is considered to be such a danger to health as to warrant the prohibition of sale, supply or use but criminal sanctions associated with schedule nine drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, ecstasy and cannabis, were considered unnecessary.

Mr Hope this case highlighted the dangers of buying drugs or medication over the internet. "The perception of the deceased and his friend was that as this was a legal drug which could be acquired in relatively large quantities it was not likely to be particularly toxic," he said.

"Sadly, it appears that while DMAA produces limited effects sought by those who would use the drug for recreational purposes, it has many of the potentially toxic effects of amphetamines."

He said Mr Dahlenburg and Mr Guglielmana placed some reliance on the anecdotal accounts from other people who had used the drug, which was also a dangerous move.

"They had very little information about dosages and in fact, as there has been very limited testing of the drug on humans, little is known about dosages which could be considered safe in the context of recreational use," Mr Hope said.

"It appears that in a context where routine drug screening is taking place for many workers a range of drugs are being purchased for recreational use which, while legal in the context of their original purpose, are most unsafe in the context of recreational use.

"It is hoped that the inquest into this tragic death will serve as warning to others who would be minded to use drugs acquired through the internet, or drugs created for other purposes, as recreational drugs."

Mr Dahlenburg's wife Jacqui Webb said her husband was a "great guy loved by so many people."

"His death was so unexpected and has left myself and the girls (aged nine and 14) devastated and still wondering why him," she said.

"Hopefully this inquest will raise public awareness about DMAA ... it's popular on mine sites because it's not illegal (at the time) and isn't tested for. Maybe now this will change.

"Although banning this product doesn't change our circumstances, I would like to think something positive will come out of this ordeal."

The West Australian

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