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The potentially fatal psychoactive drug MDPV will be banned in WA from midnight on Friday, the state government announced today.

It follows 25 seizures of the drug, which is sold as a cheaper version of cocaine or ecstasy, in the past 12 months.

Methylenedioxypyrovalerone can cause anxiety, paranoia and acute cardiovascular and central nervous system toxicity. It has been linked to two deaths in Victoria and South Australia, where it has also been banned.

Police believe the drug is being imported from Europe and the UK, where it has been prevalent since 2004.

Anyone caught with the drug after Friday could be charged for possession, selling, supplying or intent to sell or supply.

Detective senior sergeant Brett Ranford, from the organised crime squad, said the quantities seized by police ranged in size from one-tenth of a gram to up to 48 grams.

“It is an emerging trend. It has similar effects I believe to cocaine and methamphetamine, and anecdotally from our eastern states counterparts, it is mainly used by hard-core methamphetamine users as a substitute drug,” he said.

He said the fact illicit drug makers could escape prosecution by creating new forms of synthetic drugs, which don’t contain any of the banned substances, was challenging.

“With the advent of the internet, people are getting smarter about their drug use, and the boundaries are really endless, so that does pose a challenge to police,” he said.

He said in the eastern states, users were turning to MDPV because it was cheaper than other illicit drugs.

Toxicologist Robert Hansson, from the government-run Chem Centre, said 25 samples had been tested in the past year and handed on to police.

“The drug has been around for 12 months in various forms. It’s a stimulant, it raises, blood pressure, body temperature, produces euphoria,” he said.

“It has a myriad of effects which are very powerful and very potent.”

He said the drug was dangerous as it was being sold as amphetamines, and people didn’t know what they were buying.

WA Minister for Mental Health Helen Morton said MDPV has been a controlled substance in Australia since 2010, meaning importation is banned, and from May 1 this year it will be banned Australia-wide by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

“This is a positive step and I have always said a national response to the issue of emerging drugs is the most effective approach,” Ms Morton said.

“But we can’t wait until then and we are taking action in WA now, to hopefully avoid the harm that some people in the eastern states have already suffered because of this dangerous drug.”

Anyone in possession of the drug is being urged to dispose of it responsibly before Friday.

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