The notorious hexagonal Philipp Plein pill, aka PP Skull or QP Skull has been around since July 2017 where it was first detected in Austria by Checkit! and was a gold pill with 225mg of MDMA. It’s 2019 now and that is no longer reality, as a recent detection in Austria has found the Philipp Plein skull tablets containing 4-FMA, a completely different drug.
Although the colour of this batch is pink, the colour comes from a dye and doesn’t indicate what’s in the tablet. Many different colours of this pill have been produced, and it was one of the most common pills in europe in 2018.
It’s easy to tell if a tablet contains 4-FMA instead of MDMA because the marquis and froehde reagent give no colour change, compared to the (extremely strong) purple/black colour they give with MDMA. The test takes about 60 seconds for each reagent and allows people to test for many different drugs in their own home.
As is so often the case with ecstasy tablets, the first batch isn’t in circulation for long, as the first producer runs out and other producers figure out how to copy the design so that they can make their own tablets for less money, allowing them to make more profit.
In many cases over the last few years, this re-pressing of tablets has just meant putting less MDMA into the tablets but this is an unregulated market and that means some of the most unscrupulous sellers may choose to put a different drug altogether, which means that people may grossly misjudge the risks that they are being exposed to.
4-FMA is a much longer-lasting stimulant but is often described as having extremely disappointing effects because it does not produce the empathy and energy that MDMA produces, even at high doses. What it does do though, is prevent sleep for 8+ hours, which is longer than the 4-6 hours of MDMA and could cause problems for people who need to sleep for their health after a weekend of partying which might be very taxing on the body.
The two tablets analysed contain 45 and 55mg of 4-FMA respectively, which is a fairly low dose of 4-FMA since it is more often taken around 100mg. It does take a long time to kick in, often around an hour, so if someone does take this tablet then they should be careful not to take more because they think “it’s not working”, especially since a second tablet could push the dose to be excessive for their personal body characteristics.
Reagent Tests UK makes tests for common drugs to help reduce the risks associated with taking them. Even though drug use is never safe, we can neuter some of the worst risks by testing and using other harm reduction techniques. You can get a test for MDMA here.
One of the other most important techniques is education about the substance being taken. Understanding the risks can have a huge impact on the ability to control them. Even pure MDMA has plenty of risks, but there are lots of resources online which go into depth about these. Some good resources for drugs information can be found here:
Thank you also to www.ecstasydata.org for preparing the photos. EcstasyData offer lab testing of tablets and powders which are sent in the post.