THREE people have died from highly toxic ecstasy tablets that have health chiefs and gardai on red alert.
One of the victims, a 16-year-old boy in Waterford, died last Monday. Two other deaths from the drugs occurred in recent weeks.
It is feared the three died after taking ecstasy pills containing the lethal PMMA substance.
Toxicology tests have confirmed the Waterford teen had taken PMMA.
The tests have not yet been completed in the other two cases, a man and a woman in their 20s, in Co Offaly. But gardai believe the tests are likely to show that PMMA was involved.
An alert about the dangers of PMMA, which has been responsible for at least eight deaths in this country since 2012, has been issued.
A fourth separate drug death of a 23-year-old man this week is being investigated, but toxicology tests in his case did not show any PMMA, though they indicated he had taken cocaine and amphetamines.
The 16-year-old boy in Waterford is alleged to have taken six tablets, and the tests in his case positively identified the PMMA.
The HSE has issued an alert over the dangers of “an ecstasy-like substance” as well as other stimulants such as amphetamines.
The drugs have also been implicated in the hospitalisation of seven UCD students who had taken LCD and amphetamines.
“While investigations are ongoing into these cases, it is believed that they are as a result of the ingestion of an ecstasy-like substance,” the HSE said.
“Green apple and Green Rolex (green pills with an apple or Rolex symbol) appear to have been implicated in some of these incidents.
“Other stimulants indicated include cocaine and amphetamines, which in some circumstances have been taken in combination.”
“Those who take drugs should be warned of dangers linked to these substances or using drugs in combinations.”
The warning signs include severe agitation, an extremely rapid heart rate and an extremely high temperature.
“Even with prompt medical attention, unfortunately some people have died taking these stimulants,” the HSE said.
“There is sufficient evidence available to recommend that people do not take these substances or if their friends are in possession of these that they should not be consumed.
The alarm among UCD students was raised initially on May 9 when a student at a party in Dundrum began behaving abnormally after taking the drugs and an ambulance was called.
By the time it arrived, three others were also unwell and a fifth student was also taken as a precautionary measure to St James’ Hospital.
Meanwhile, gardai arrested a man in his 20s in the Phibsborough area of north Dublin.
Officers seized €1,000 worth of ecstasy, LSD, herbal cannabis and cocaine as well as cash, mobile phones, weighing scales and other items associated with drug-dealing during the raid on the flat.
The suspect was being questioned at Irishtown garda station. He is the second man to be arrested following the hospitalisation of the UCD students.