Drug labs 'should make' pill info public

Nathan Tran's is one of six deaths being investigated by Deputy NSW Coroner Harriet Grahame.
Nathan Tran's is one of six deaths being investigated by Deputy NSW Coroner Harriet Grahame.

Labs detecting dangerous drugs should be making the information public, a pro-pill-testing doctor has told an inquest into several deaths at NSW music festivals.

Canberra emergency doctor David Caldicott said he was concerned that PMMA - a potent stimulant - had been detected in the blood of Nathan Tran, one of six people whose drug-related deaths are the focus of the inquest at Lidcombe Coroners Court.

Mr Tran collapsed at Knockout Circuz and died hours later in a nearby hospital in December 2017.

The court has been told his autopsy showed he'd consumed a lethal dose of MDMA and that later tests of his bloodstream also revealed trace elements of PMMA, a stimulant drug sometimes sold as MDMA but with more lethal effects.

"This is the sort of information that needs to be released to the general public - particularly the consuming public - immediately," Dr Caldicott told the inquest on Friday.

The emergency department specialist at Canberra's Calvary Hospital, who led two pill-testing trials at festival Groovin The Moo, pointed to an example in 2016 when a laboratory in The Netherlands detected a "clearly dangerous dose" of PMMA in a group of pills dubbed the "Pink Superman".

He said a Dutch monitoring and warning system released alerts across a range of media and no deaths attributable to the pill were recorded in the country.

In the same season, the same product caused deaths in the United Kingdom where there was no warning system, Dr Caldicott said.

"Overwhelmingly, the vast majority of young people (using drugs) may be foolish but they are not stupid," he said.

He said the idea that the "Just Say No" approach was an effective measure in reducing drug harm showed either a phenomenal misunderstanding of, or a "lack of concern" for, young drug users.

The inquest continues.

Australian Associated Press