Date rape drug warning a myth, say healthcare professionals

By
April 10, 2006

Can a simple glass of Coke result in sexual assault and permanent infertility?

According to messages on the Mills Student-News, men are slipping Rohypnol, a date rape drug, and Progesterex, a pill used to sterilize horses, into girls' drinks in order to rape them without fear of pregnancy. The warning goes on to say that this sterilization is not temporary, and that women should be wary.

While women are at risk for drug-related rape, the use of Rohypnol – also known as roofies – and Progesterex for date rape is a myth, according to Mills Health Director and liason for the Tang Center, Cynthia Turner. "[Medical Professionals] have heard of drugs in drinks, but we don't have any documented cases where [Progesterex] has been used," said Turner.

Turner also says that Rohypnol is no longer an effective date rape drug.

"The drug known as roofies has been reformulated and does not dissolve in drinks the way it did years ago. It gets crumbly now, so the girl knows what she's drinking," Turner said.

Susanna Holder, the equitation instructor for Mills, says that she has not even heard of Progesterex being used to sterilize horses let alone human women. However, she does say that a drug called Regimate is similar to Progesterex.

"Basically it is an equine version of Midol and birth control to regulate PMS-like symptoms to make [mares] more manageable and rideable… It makes humans, male and female, sterile, but I don't think it makes horses sterile," Holder said.

Paula Flamm, the sexual assault specialist at the Tang Center, said that the Progesterex/Rohypnol combination is an urban legend and that rumors have appeared as early as 1999.

Even though many versions of the Progesterex message include the verification of Marina Ackerman, Secretary for the Department of Internal Medicine of the Health Sciences Faculty at the University of Stellenbosch and Tygerberg Hospital, these messages were not officially endorsed.

"In good faith, [Ackerman] forwarded this message to a number of contacts. Unfortunately, she did not ascertain the validity of this warning prior to forwarding the message [or] remove her e-mail signature (contact details, including fax number) from the bottom of the message," the website for Stellenbosch and Tygerberg Hospital stated.

Paul Dexter, the Administrative Manager & Outreach Specialist at the University of Southern Maine, would concur. He investigated rumors of Progesterex on his campus back in November of 2001, but he found no concrete evidence of it being used.

"The rumor was just that – a rumor," Dexter said.

Saranique Schwartz, a Mills sophomore, explains the myth's popularity on college campuses as the result of students living on their own for the first time.

"[Myths] pop up because people are looking for others to tell them what they don't know. I don't think your next-door neighbor in your dorm is the best person to find out from," she said.

"Go Ask Alice!," the internet health question and answer service for Columbia University, says that Progesterex is only one of many potentially harmful legends that are passed off as the truth: "[Progesterex] won't be the last [urban legend]; whose rectum will a gerbil find its way into tomorrow? Whose image, sense of security, and peace of mind will be sacrificed next year just for laughs?"


Date rape drug warning a myth, say healthcare professionals was published on April 10, 2006 in News

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