Dundee is being flooded with potentially lethal fake Valium pills which are “going for pennies”, a drugs expert has warned.
A “significant” number of people in the city have sought help for addiction to street drugs, which are being sold to users as the sedative Valium.
According to support group Addaction, fatalities related to the consumption of fake Valium are occurring on a weekly basis throughout Scotland.
The drugs have been associated with the deaths of hundreds of people across the country, including Dundee, and were linked to the deaths of six people in Glasgow’s Toryglen in the last nine months.
There is no regulation over what they contain.
In some cases, the chemical etizolam was found in the pills as a substitute for diazepam. Etizolam is used as medicine in some countries but it not licensed in the UK.
Experts say many of those who bought fake Valium are also using drugs such as heroin and methadone, which if mixed can have lethal consequences.
Andrew Horne, from Addaction, said the Dundee branch had been dealing with an “exceptionally high rate” of people with issues linked to the tablets.
He said: “We’ve had a significant number of people purporting to us with problems with Valium that is probably fake.
“It’s an exceptionally high rate. The position, as we see it, across the country is that the people most susceptible to harm are people with long-term drug careers, people who think it’s quite a high. At the moment there seems to be a glut of it — and these drugs are going for pennies.”
The scourge of diazepam abuse in Dundee was laid bare in the BBC Three documentary Drugs Map of Britain last year.
The most recent Scottish Government figures show that diazepam-type substances were related to 191 deaths in Scotland in 2015.
Andrew said: “Millions of these tablets could be coming from India or China — it seems to be everywhere.
“We offer services in Dundee, Fife, all over the country. People can drop in, phone, email, we can help.”