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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Pill testing trial formally on offer after deaths

Two organisations have made a formal offer to the Victorian government to host a free pill testing trial at a festival this summer.

Experienced emergency physicians would be on standby at a music festival under an official pitch to the Victorian government to host a free pill testing trial.

Harm Reduction Australia and Pill Testing Australia on Wednesday announced they formally offered to host a public health based pill testing trial at a festival of the government's choice this summer, at no cost to the state.

Several other health bodies - including the Victorian Ambulance Union and not-for-profit Cohealth - have backed the organisation, which said it would staff the trial with appropriately qualified professionals.

The professionals would include experienced medical emergency physicians, chemical analysts and specialist festival harm reduction peer educators.

The organisations have also offered to secure insurance coverage, a letter of indemnity for the participating festival, equipment, and a series of policy, procedures and training manuals.

Pill testing services have been shown to significantly reduce drug harm by providing accurate information and advice to people contemplating their consumption, Harm Reduction Australia and Pill Testing Australia said.

Seventy-seven organisations previously signed a letter to the Victorian government published last month, which called on the state to provide a drug-checking service to prevent fatal overdoses.

Victoria's top coroner in September repeated a plea for Victoria to offer drug testing following the death of a 26-year-old suspected to have overdosed after taking a notorious "blue punisher" MDMA pill.

State Coroner John Cain also noted other coroners in three recent findings pushed for the measure to be introduced.

Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas last week defended pill testing not being part of Victoria's drug harm reduction strategy for music festivals. 

"At this time, the Allan Labor government has no plans to introduce pill testing," she told reporters.

The Victorian Greens pushed for the state government to take up the offer of the free trial on Wednesday, with drug harm reduction spokesperson Aiv Puglielli saying Labor was "fast running out of excuses to delay action on pill testing".


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