Health authorities have issued a warning after three overdoses — including one that was fatal — were linked to the presence of opioids in black market vape juice.
NSW Health issued the alert on Monday for the juice, which is used in refillable vapes.
It said the vape juice linked to the overdoses contained “powerful” synthetic opioids called nitazenes, which can be stronger and last longer than fentanyl.
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Nitazenes can also affect a person’s breathing more than other opioids.
In one of the overdose cases, the person thought the vape juice they were using contained a synthetic cannabinoid, but it instead contained a nitazene.
An overdose can be caused by consuming even a small amount of the opioid, with six to eight puffs of a vape containing enough nitazene to initiate an overdose.
The department has urged vape users to consider that the juice they are inhaling may contain dangerous opioids and other drugs, and that consumers may be “sold something different than what you think you’re buying”.
NSW Health regularly tests vapes at its laboratories.
Vapes that do not contain nicotine are legal in NSW, and can be bought and used by adults.
Since October 2021, vapes and vape juice which do contain nicotine are a prescription-only medicine in Australia.
They can be purchased from pharmacists by people who are over 18 with a valid prescription.
It is illegal to sell vapes containing nicotine.