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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 7 December, 2019

Nine backpackers in hospital in Australia after snorting drug they mistook for cocaine

The drug they actually took was motion sickness medication hyoscine.

File photo. The backpackers started to feel symptoms including seizure and paralysis.
File photo. The backpackers started to feel symptoms including seizure and paralysis.
Image: Shutterstock/DedMityay

NINE BACKPACKERS WERE rushed to hospital in west Australian city of Perth after snorting a drug they mistakenly believed was cocaine.

Of the nine, three remained in intensive care last night, the West Australian reported.

It is understood the drug identified was hyoscine, a medicine commonly used to treat motion sickness and nausea.

The seven men and two women include five French nationals, two Germans, one Italian and a Moroccan.

Within minutes of taking the drug at home they all shared, they began to experience symptoms including seizures, paralysis, overheating and hallucinations.

The package containing the white powder was wrapped in paper bearing the word “scoop” which may have reference scopolamine, which is another name for hyoscine.

The group are lucky to be alive, according to doctors.

Dr David McCutcheon at the Royal Perth Hospital told the West Australian: “Several of these people would have died I’m pretty sure without medical intervention.

They were hallucinating, their hearts were racing, several of them had to be put in a medically induced coma for their own protection and I really need to emphasise how seriously unwell they were.

The drug, also called “Devil’s Breath”, is common in Colombia and used in robberies, sexual assaults and kidnappings.

Gary Budge, the acting deputy police commissioner, said the incident highlighted the serious risks to health from taking unknown substances.

Read: Man charged with murder over fatal late-night attack on Irishman in Perth

Read: Prominent British CEO and family killed in Australian seaplane crash

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Sean Murray

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