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MSP calls for urgent action after three 'drugs' deaths

Jenny Marra has linked the fatalities to a batch of deadly Xanax that arrived in Dundee last week.

MSP Jenny Marra
MSP Jenny Marra STV

An MSP has called for urgent action to tackle Dundee's drug problem after the deaths of three people at the weekend.

Jenny Marra has linked the fatalities to a batch of fake tranquilliser that arrived in the city last week.

Drug recovery charity Addaction has also said the deaths followed the arrival of a consignment of Xanax.

Marra said urgent recommendations made by the Dundee Drugs Commission in the summer had yet to be acted upon.

Speaking to STV, she said: "It's my understanding that three people tragically died in Lochee this weekend.

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"It's not been confirmed by the toxicology reports yet, but we think it was due to a whole consignment of Xanax, which I believe is a fake Valium, which arrived in Dundee on Friday.

"The human cost of this drugs problem is huge.

"We know that Scotland has got the biggest drug addiction problem and highest drugs death rate in the world, but I've also heard from experts that they expect it to go up again this year, so we really need fast action from government and from the authorities here in Dundee."

Marra stated that not one of the ten 'immediate recommendations' from Dundee Drugs Commission have been implemented since a report in August.

Dave Barrie at Addaction Dundee and Angus claimed the three deaths were connected to a "recent pocket" of drugs that had entered Dundee.

He said: "It's kind of come and gone. I think what we're seeing, both in Dundee and wider, is that certain drugs will come in, they'll circulate for a few days or a week or two, then they may drift out."

Mr Barrie said that it was still "early days" and it was difficult to be specific without the toxicology reports.

However, he said from "intelligence on the ground ... it looks like Xanax came into Dundee at the end of last week".

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He said: "It's probably normally circulated, but this is the intelligence that we're hearing through our workforce on the street, and it looks like it's landed predominately up in the Lochee area, and it looks like there was at least one confirmed, if not three potential fatal overdoses last weekend.

"And in a small community like Lochee, in a small city like Dundee, it's devastating."

He said: "Our hearts go out to the families. A month before Christmas - to lose a loved one in any circumstance is devastating - so our hearts go out to these families, again, probably leaving children behind."

More than 400 people in Dundee have died from drugs over the past decade and agencies have described the situation as a public health emergency.

Police Scotland said on Tuesday that it was currently investigating three unexplained deaths in the city.

The force said one possible line of inquiry was that the deaths were drugs-related.

The Dundee Drugs Commission was set up by the city council-backed Dundee Partnership.

A Dundee Partnership spokesman said: "The Dundee Partnership is developing a comprehensive action plan to respond to the recommendations from the Dundee Drugs Commission and this will be considered by the partners in the next few weeks

"Multi-agency partners in the city are committed to take all available measures to tackle drug deaths.

" We are also keen that Dundee's journey can influence the national situation and that is why we are asking the Scottish and UK governments to consider changes to legislation, funding and policies proposed by the commission."

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: ""Officers continue to investigate three unexplained deaths in Dundee between Friday 22 and Saturday, 23 November. 

"The cause of each death has yet to be fully established and toxicology examinations will confirm what, if any, substances have been involved. 

"We would encourage anyone who may have information regarding drugs arriving in the city to contact the police directly."

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