Friday, August 21, 2015 - 14:18
Nearly 34,000 poison cases last year; Synthetic drugs on the rise
Around 33,700 people suffered poisoning last year. Most cases involved medicine poisoning - being poisoned by, for example, pain killers or tranquilizers - but the number of poison cases caused by synthetic drugs is on the rise. This is according to figures released by the National Poisons Information Center (NVIC), part of UMC Utrecht, on Thursday. A total of 45,254 exposures to potentially toxic substances were reported to the center last year. The center noted a significant increase in reports of incidents involving new synthetic drugs - so-called "new psychoactive substances" or NPS. These involve involve substances that have only appeared on the markets as drugs and are not officially under the drug laws yet. The reports of these "legal highs" increased from 36 in 2013 to 77 last year. "As the chemical structure is bit different from the conventional drugs, they fall outside the drug laws. Therefore they are easily marketed and easy to find", Toxicologist Irma de Vries of the center explained to NOS, warning that these drugs are dangerous. "If the drugs have been tinkered with, you do not know for sure what such a pill contains. Little is known about the effects and therefore also about the nasty effects that can occur." Other common means of poisoning include household cleaning products and cosmetics. Most of these cases involved children swallowing these products. There were also 103 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 years that got alcohol poisoning. The Center was also called in to help with 4,979 cases involving poisoned animals. A total of 5,292 were exposed to potentially toxic substances. At 71 percent, the vast majority of reports involved dogs, followed by cats with 23 percent of the share. In both species the animals were most commonly poisoned by eating toxic substances such as plants, human medicines and pesticides.