The family of Leanne McCloskey, 23, was told that while it is often sold as ecstasy, there was no trace of ecstasy found in her blood, and instead tests confirmed her death was due to PMA toxicity.
Earlier this year, the PSNI issued an alert about PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine). It has been linked to deaths in Belfast last summer, as well as deaths in England in recent years.
It is often sold as ecstasy or mixed with it, and the PSNI said: “The combination of MDMA [ecstasy] and PMA can be particularly hazardous to health and has been linked with numerous deaths worldwide.”
Drogheda Coroner’s court was told that Leanne, from High Road, Mornington, Co Meath, died at 7pm on Apr 17 this year in the intensive care unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.
This was three days after she was admitted. The inquest heard that when she was admitted she had a high temperature, a fast heart rate and she had a seizure in the CT scan room.
She was pronounced dead following the results of tests on her brain stem.
Gda Sgt Fearghal O’Toole, Drogheda, said that her brother Mark had identified her body to him in the ICU.
Pathologist Dr John Ryan performed the post mortem and said toxicology tests were carried out. He had given the gardaí biochemistry samples that were taken from Leanne when she was admitted to hospital.
These were analysed at the State Laboratory and revealed a level of the drug PMA in her blood of .28 milligrams. It also found a blood alcohol level of 49%.
“I understand from the State laboratory that the level of PMA was significant and was in keeping with causing death,” said Dr Ryan. He concluded death was due to PMA toxicity.
He said there was no MDMA in her but said it “is sold as ecstasy but the effects can be markedly different to ecstasy… it can be stronger”.
The inquest was then adjourned by Coroner Ronan Maguire, who said he was doing this as the gardaí were preparing a file for the DPP. A Garda spokesman confirmed the file would be ready shortly to go to the DPP.
Mr Maguire expressed his “admiration,” to the family for donating her organs and said a letter from Beaumont Hospital, the transplant centre in Dublin, confirmed that two people had benefitted as a result.