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Boston to hold hearing on overdose

Club could face disciplinary action from department

Three people were taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at the conclusion of a show at the House of Blues.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe staff

Three people were taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at the conclusion of a show at the House of Blues.

The city’s licensing department will hold a hearing Wednesday to gather information about last week’s fatal overdose by a 19-year-old college student at a House of Blues concert, and will determine whether to take disciplinary action.

Two other people attending the show were also treated for suspected overdoses of the club drug known as Molly, a more potent form of the drug ecstasy, but they survived.

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The city’s head of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing will hold the hearing at 10:30 a.m. and will hear from representatives from the House of Blues nightclub, as well as from police investigators.

The Boston Public Health Commission, meanwhile, plans to hold a series of meetings with the owners of major clubs and venues, as well as with college and university officials, to educate them on known club drugs and how to recognize symptoms of overdoses.

“We’re absolutely concerned, and that’s why we’re working with the clubs, colleges, and universities to make sure people are aware of the risks,” said Nick Martin, a spokesman for the Public Health Commission.

The public awareness campaign follows the Aug. 28 death of Brittany Flannigan, a native of Derry, N.H., who was about to begin her sophomore year at Plymouth State University.

She was one of three young people rushed to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at the conclusion of a show by Zedd, an electronic music producer and disc jockey, at the House of Blues.

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Just days after her death, two men suffered suspected overdoses from a club drug at a concert at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston. In addition, a University of New Hampshire student, Olivia Rotondo, of North Providence, R.I., and a Rochester, N.Y., man died at a New York City music festival after apparently taking a club drug believed to be Molly.

Law enforcement officials said the deaths are under investigation and toxicology tests are being conducted.

Molly is a slang term for MDMA — or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine — which is the active chemical in ecstasy. A more pure, potent form of ecstasy, Molly is usually sold as a powder packaged in a capsule, and both drugs have been associated with electronic dance music concerts.

The drugs are yet to carry the stigma of heroin, or crystal methamphetamine. And, overall, use of ecstasy is low compared with other drug use. In a 2011 survey, less than 1 percent of college students had used ecstasy in the past month.

But law enforcement officials said the recent overdoses are a reminder that the drugs can be fatal.

“Young people tend to think this stuff isn’t dangerous, and it is dangerous,” said Anthony Pettigrew, a spokesman for the US Drug Enforcement Administration. “This stuff gets manufactured in someone’s bathtub. You just don’t know what’s in it.”

Boston police Superintendent William Evans said police continue to investigate Flannigan’s death as well as the overdoses that night and at the Bank of America Pavilion. The pavilion is also expected to go before the license division for violations, but no hearing has been scheduled as yet.

Evans said drug investigators have been sweeping clubs and other large venues, looking for suspected drug dealing.

But he stressed that more needs to be done to educate club owners and concertgoers, many of whom bring their drugs to the clubs themselves.

“A lot of these kids come into the establishment with drugs in their system, so it’s important that we do an educational piece here, not only for the clubs, but for these kids,” Evans said. “I can’t stress enough for the clubs and the users to realize the dangers of this.”

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.

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