Three people overdose on party drug GHB in Venice

A 44-year-old woman died and two others remain in critical condition after they apparently overdosed on GHB, an illegal party drug, police said.

Emergency workers were called to a home in Venice Beach just before dawn Sunday.


The call was made by a fourth person, said Margaret Stewart, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. That person declined medical treatment, she said.

The 44-year-old woman was already in cardiac arrest when the paramedics entered the home, Stewart said. She was rushed to a hospital, where she later died.

A 25-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man were also in full cardiac arrest, but emergency workers were able to restore their pulses before taking them to a hospital, Stewart said.

GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyrate, has been used for a variety of purposes since the early 1960s, including as an anesthetic, a body building supplement and a party drug at raves. However, because the drug can render people unconscious, it is also used in date rapes.

GHB was responsible for 226 known deaths between 1995 and 2005, according to a 2009 article in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine  In addition, 5,700 overdoses from GHB were recorded between 1990 and 2000, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA approved the sale of GHB to individuals who suffer from cataplexy in 2002. Cataplexy is a condition that can cause a sudden loss of muscle tone that can lead a person to collapse. It affects an estimated 50,000 of the 120,000 people with narcolepsy.

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