DRUG dealers are cashing in on Scotland’s favourite soft drink by selling “Irn-Bru” ecstasy tablets.
The bright orange pills are bottle-shaped and stamped with the name of the world-famous brand.
The potentially deadly drugs are being sold on the streets of Edinburgh, and likely throughout the country, for £10 each.
Some experts believe the Irn-Bru design is a deliberate, cynical ploy to attract more youngsters to take up the drug.
The new pills are about half an inch in length and clearly visible on the side is the word “Irn-Bru” in the signature bold font of the AG Barr brand.
It is believed that they are made using a pill-press – which uses high pressure to compress powdered narcotics into tablets which look similar to everyday medications.
The producers would likely have had to make a custom mould for the Irn-Bru pills.
In the past images have surfaced of pills branded with the Facebook, Nintendo and Oreo logos.
The practice is often used so that users can compare their experiences with the pills online – discussing how strong they are, or whether they have any dangerous side-effects.
But Emma Crawshaw, head of Edinburgh-based drug counselling charity Crew said: “We’d understand branding to be a way for producers to target specific markets and sell more pills.”
She also said: “Just because a pill is branded doesn’t mean it’s the same as another one in strength – it could be from a different batch, made by different people.
“Once an alert goes out for a particular branded pill being high strength, other manufacturers may well copy it to make the most of the publicity, but there’s no guarantee the contents will be the same.”
And others have suggested that the branding may help market the drugs to younger users.
In May, Police Scotland reported that ecstasy pills had been recovered in the shape of Lego bricks – and marked with the Superman and Burger King logos.
And last month in Manchester three 12 year-old girls were hospitalised after taking pills in the shape of teddy bears.
The trend prompted a warning from Fiona Measham, a member of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
Speaking last month she warned that “children and youth-orientated designs” on pills could be being used to appeal to young people.
In 2013, 19 year-old Edinburgh student Alex Heriot was killed after taking ecstasy at Rockness festival in the Highlands.
It was originally thought that he died after taking a legal high but it was eventually established that the cause of death was “ecstasy toxicity”.
A spokesman for Irn-Bru said they “have no comment at this time in regard to this story”.
Police Scotland declined to comment except to say they had received no reports of the tablets in the area.