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Pill containing strychnine seized in Holland

Update: March 2000

To date, no further pills have been found containing strychnine. The possibility that a group or individual decided, for whatever reason, to contaminate a pill with the poison and then have it tested in a lab is being considered by Dutch harm reduction groups.

According to press reports, on 28 January Dutch police seized one ecstasy tablet in Holland containing 8 milligrams of strychnine, a substance used, in some countries, in rat poison. They say that between 5 to15 milligrams of strychnine can be fatal to humans, and have issued warnings to Dutch drug users.

The pill is yellow in colour with dark brown flecks, but has no logo. It has a diameter of 9mm and a thickness of 4.4 mm.

According to the London Toxicology Group:

"The fatal dose of strychnine is difficult to establish, some authors quote fatal doses as low as 5-10mg.  Fatalities have been reported at doses of around 15mg.

Ingestion of 5-7mg could lead to muscle spasm and twitching. Serious symptoms would be expected in children after a dose of 15-20mg.

However because life threatening symptoms can occur rapidly any dose should be considered life threatening.

Features may start within 10-30 minutes of ingestion. There is an increase in muscle tone with rigidity and hyperreflexia. The facial muscles are involved in addition to the limb muscles.

The dose of strychnine in the tablet (8mg) is such that the muscular effects probably resemble those from MDMA, but the tablet also contained MDMA."

• This report will be updated as we find out more.