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Australian pill testing site discovers new recreational drug never seen in the country before

Charisa Bossinakis

| Last updated 

Australian pill testing site discovers new recreational drug never seen in the country before

Australia’s first pill testing site has discovered a new recreational drug that’s never been found in the country before.

ABC News reported that scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) had detected a new substance at the CanTEST. facility.

It's been dubbed ‘CanKet' and shows similar qualities to ketamine.

Associate Professor Malcolm McCleod from ANU said the drug was discovered after someone brought a small bag into the testing service.


He added: "They told us that they thought it was ketamine but that the effects of the drug were very different to what they expected, so they wanted us to test it.”

Credit: CanTEST
Credit: CanTEST

After running it through the system, scientists found that the drug was a ketamine-like substance rather than ketamine itself.

He added: "That's why we have called it CanKet — as in Canberra ketamine."


Bonus points for creativity!

Professor McCleod said scientists have no new information regarding the drug but urged drug consumers to 'proceed with caution'.

Following the discovery, CanTEST shared its findings with ACT Health, the UN Office of Drug Control and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

According to The Guardian, all agencies said they had also never seen the substance before.


CanTEST, which launched in August, is Canberra’s first drug testing service that tests small quantities of drugs intended for recreational use.

The Guardian reported that almost 200 people have brought in their drugs to analyse, which has led to many discarding their drugs when scientists found harmful substances.

Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy executive director Chris Gough said that the numbers continue to grow for people bringing in their drugs as more people are trusting the service, according to Riotact.


He added: “It also feels like we’ve gotten over the crest of the hill. This is well and truly justifying drug checking as a service.”

Mr Gough also urged those using ketamine to ‘exercise high caution’ as the drug is often cut with something else.

He added that these tests further enforce how essential these drug services are to the community as they provide full transparency for drug consumers.

He said: “We’re finding all these compounds … and then we’re able to put out these alerts to protect the community from these novel synthetic chemicals.


“It’s important to be able to have the right machines but also the right communication points to let people know what’s in their drugs.”

Featured Image Credit: Malcolm McLeod/Australian National University. CanTest

Topics: News, Australia, Drugs, Science

Charisa Bossinakis
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