Recent reports (1) have identified the re-emergence in Australia of a new and dangerous drug, alpha-PVP, commonly known as Flakka, Gravel or Bath Salts. This is the latest in a rapidly growing number of synthetic or New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) (2) that have been introduced into the Australian market in recent years.
Although it is a schedule 9 drug, it appears to have re-entered the street drug market and has been detected in a number of workers. (1)
Flakka is a synthetic amphetamine like stimulant with hallucinogenic effects and has been implicated in a number tragic deaths (3). Whilst it was originally marketed as a “legal high” and sold through sex shops and tobacconist it is now a Schedule 9 drug the same as heroin and cocaine and other amphetamines. However it would appear it has re-entered the street drug market and has been reported to have been detected in a number of workers. (1)
The overall level of risk it poses to current workplaces is difficult to ascertain as it is not included in any normal AS4308 or AS4760 drug testing programmes. In addition at present there are no reliable onsite tests for this particular drug. There are however laboratory tests and DASA is currently working with its confirmatory laboratory provider Safeworks Laboratories to develop strategies that may assist organisations in addressing the potential risks this and other NPS drugs pose. DASA will keep you updated with information on Bath Salts and other new drugs which may appear in your workplace.
2) DASA Fact Sheet - Workplace Testing for New Psychoactive Substances