Protonitazene sold as ‘3C-P’

Drug sold as: 3C-P

Reason for concern: Protonitazine sold as 3C-P

A pink and white capsule sold as ‘3C-P’ in Melbourne contains the potent opioid protonitazene.

Protonitazene is a novel synthetic opioid that can produce life-threatening toxic effects in very small amounts

Opioids are central nervous system depressants, typically producing a range of effects including pain relief, sedation and respiratory depression (dangerously slow breathing). Respiratory depression often appears more quickly with novel synthetic opioids (NSOs), increasing the risk of life-threatening overdose.

Protonitazene is an extremely potent NSO, which means it can produce strong effects in very small amounts. Protonitazene has a potency over 100 times that of heroin.

Be extremely cautious of any pink and white capsules or white powder sold as ‘3C-P’ or a psychedelic – it may contain protonitazene

There has been one serious recent hospitalisation in Victoria associated with this pink and white capsule. The product appears to produce strong adverse effects such as loss of consciousness, respiratory depression, and life-threatening hypoxia (insufficient oxygen for normal functioning).

3C-P and protonitazene are very different substances. 3-CP produces stimulant and psychedelic effects, whereas protonitazene produces sedative effects and may lead to opioid toxicity. Using protonitazene with depressants such as alcohol, GHB or benzodiazepines (‘Xanax’, ‘Valium’, etc) increases the risk of overdose.

Signs of opioid toxicity to look out for include breathing slowly and reduced consciousness (meaning someone is hard to wake up). In some cases, there may also be tiny pupils. More information about opioid overdose symptoms can be found on the Penington Institute website.

Naloxone is an easy-to-use medication that can reverse opioid overdose – it’s safe to use even if you’re not sure whether someone has taken opioids. Naloxone can be accessed free of charge at participating pharmaciesneedle and syringe programs and the medically supervised injecting centre. You can find an approved naloxone provider on the Take Home Naloxone program website.

Reduce the risk of harm

If you experience adverse drug effects, or are present when someone has an unexpected reaction, seek help immediately by calling Triple Zero (000).

All alcohol and other drug use comes with risks, so:

  • Be aware that other false or contaminated drug products may circulate in Victoria, even if no specific warning has been issued about them.
  • Get free naloxone and carry it with you – no matter what drugs you think you’re getting.
  • Make sure you’re in a safe environment with people you trust.
  • Remember, even ‘pure’ drugs can produce serious side effects and death, and can interact dangerously with medications/pharmaceutical drugs. Get the facts on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website.

Contact Harm Reduction Victoria’s DanceWize team for anonymous support and education from peers. Talk to DanceWize volunteers by email at

If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol or drug use, call DirectLine on 1800 888 236 or visit DirectLine for information and support to access treatment.