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RACGP President backs calls for pill testing following another death


Amanda Lyons


14/01/2019 4:20:22 PM

In the wake of the third music festival death since Christmas, Dr Harry Nespolon has reiterated his support for further pill testing trials.

Dr Harry Nespolon has voiced his support for pill testing in the wake of the latest music festival overdose death.
Dr Harry Nespolon has voiced his support for pill testing in the wake of the latest music festival overdose death.

Alex Ross-King, 19-year-old woman from the NSW Central Coast, died after a suspected drug overdose at the FOMO music festival in Parramatta over the weekend.
 
In the wake of this latest tragedy, Ms Ross-King’s family has implored NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to reconsider her stance against pill testing.
 
‘It’s such a small thing to do, it’s not hard. Let’s try and get it out there,’ Denise Doig, Ms Ross-King’s grandmother, told Network Ten.  
 
‘If it saves one life – one life is a life. And these are children.’
 
The most recent death has seen RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon add his voice to a growing chorus of calls to implement further pill testing trials at music festivals.
 
Dr Nespolon believes it is an issue of health and safety, rather than one of law enforcement.
 
‘At the end of the day, pill testing is nothing to do with legalising and condoning drug use, but reducing harm – and ultimately saving lives,’ he told newsGP.
 
According to Dr Nespolon, pill testing is a harm-minimisation strategy worthy of consideration that takes into account the reality of people’s behaviour, rather than the ideal.
 
‘Of course it would be preferable if people did not engage in potentially dangerous drug-taking behaviour, but the fact of the matter is that they do, as recent events have made very clear,’ he said.
 
‘I believe it is important to make every effort to ensure that families see their children come home rather than suffer overdose death as a result of drug-taking.’
 
Dr Nespolon also notes that the positive effects of pill testing can extend beyond simply detecting harmful substances within illicit drugs.
 
‘It can also bring young people into contact with health professionals, and help play a strong part in education about drug use and its risks for a group that might otherwise be hard to reach,’ he said.
 
As calls for pill testing have continued to strengthen, Premier Berejiklian has indicated a possible softening in her position against the process, although she has also continued to assert a lack of evidence to support its implementation.
 
However, Ms Ross-King’s family, along with many others, believe it is time for a change of approach.
 
‘Strong leadership isn’t always about sticking to an ideological decision or a position when there’s possibly a mountain of evidence or advice that maybe something else should be tried,’ Phil Clark, Ms Ross-King’s uncle, told Network Ten.
 
‘Strong leadership is trying something different.’



drug overdose music festivals pill testing



Dale van der Mescht   15/01/2019 8:13:17 AM

“ ‘It can also bring young people into contact with health professionals, and help play a strong part in education about drug use and its risks for a group that might otherwise be hard to reach,’ he said. “

Really... an opportunistic time to discuss the use of mind altering substances is at an event where the person has been planning on using the drug for the last 6 weeks, have any of these people actually even been to an event like the ones in question. The point is to party and party hard, not to sit down with a GP and discuss life goals.

Has there been an RACGP member vote that I missed because I don’t recall as a memeber supporting the pill testing process but our representatives are saying we do?


Fiona McGovern   15/01/2019 8:24:46 AM

I am totally supportive of pill testing in an effort to save lives.


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