Ireland has the third highest number of drug-related deaths in Europe.
The figure comes as gardaí and health officials investigate another fatality linked to rogue ecstasy tablets.
Ireland has a drug death rate four times that of the EU average and is only behind Estonia and Norway for fatalities per head of population.
The statistics emerge as a 22-year-old man died after taking an ecstasy-type drug at a party in Donegal on Monday, which has also left another 22-year-old man fighting for his life.
While gardaí are awaiting toxicology results on the pills — brown tablets known as ‘Double Cross’ — they suspect it could be another death linked to powerful amphetamines PMA and PMMA.
Gardaí said three deaths in recent weeks have been connected to these drugs. Another four deaths are also under investigation.
“PMA deaths are coming up more and more and in different types of pills,” said a garda source. He estimated that the rate of PMA deaths, compared to MDMA deaths, would be roughly 10:1.
Garda sources said they have not seen the brown Double Cross tablets before. The other deaths in recent weeks have been linked to green ‘Rolex’ and ‘Apple’ tablets and white ‘Mitsubishi’ pills.
The Donegal death comes as the 2014 report of the EU drugs agency shows Ireland has 70.5 drug deaths per million people. This compares to an EU average of 17.1 per million, just behind Norway (76), which is well behind Estonia (191).
In contrast, the UK has a drug-death rate of 38 per million, Belgium 17, the Netherlands 10 and France 7, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
Suzi Lyons of the Health Research Board said Ireland’s system was “seen as the gold standard in Europe” in terms of its accuracy and comprehensive nature and that this “could be one reason we feature so high on the list”.
The Donegal death follows three confirmed deaths in the past two months to PMA/PMMA: A 16-year-old boy in Waterford on Monday; a 26-year-old woman in Tullamore, Co Offaly, in April; and a 23-year-old man in Youghal in March.
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