Archive | September, 2011

Dublin: Rising Tide Of Heroin Addiction As 600 New Injectors Seek Charities Help

30 Sep

NEARLY 600 new heroin injectors presented themselves to one of the country’s largest drug and homeless charities last year.

Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) said a total of 4,308 users sought help with them in 2010, up 5% on 2009. Some 575 of these were new injectors.

It said this rise coincided with one of the biggest droughts of heroin to hit the country from October on.

MQI chief executive Tony Geoghegan said: “The figures serve as a reminder that heroin use remains at very high levels and that significant numbers of new people are beginning to use heroin every year.”

He said the charity operated in 11 counties, reflecting how the heroin problem was now a national one. Mr Geoghegan said that 24% of the users attending their 17-week residential drug programme in Dublin were from HSE South (Cork and Kerry).

The report said that of the 62 people that went through the residential programme last year, 15 were from HSE South, including 12 from Cork.

Mr Geoghegan also said that 15 of the 34 new users (44% of the total) attending their therapeutic residential programme at St Francis Farm in Tullow, Co Carlow, were from the South East.

“Our figures confirm that heroin is a national crisis. The treatment figures from the Health Research Board back that up.”

He said that addressing homelessness and the drugs crisis was “fundamentally about reducing human misery” and should not be reduced to economics.

“Nonetheless, in this era where policy is focused almost exclusively on reducing public expenditure, it is important to again draw notice to the fact that according to the British Home Office every £1 spent on drug treatment saves £3 in criminal justice costs alone. When health savings are included the saving is £9.50 [€11].

“Investing in harm reduction services directly reduces health care expenditure.

“Investment in drug substitution treatment has been shown to reduce other healthcare costs and to reduce crime and investment in drug free treatment and aftercare can reduce expenditure on healthcare, criminal justice and social welfare.

“Most of all investing in all of these areas reduces the misery associated with drug use for everybody.”

He said there was “no sense of urgency” from the Government to address the problems of drug addiction and homelessness.

He said their funding from the HSE this year was down over 6%: “The only reason why we can keep going, and even set up new services, is through voluntary contributions.”

www.mqi.ie & www.drugs.ie

NEWS UPDATE:

‘Demand tsunami’ faced by homeless charities

CHARITIES who deal with homelessness are reporting a surge in demand for their services and have warned of a “demand tsunami” this winter.

The expected increase in demand has prompted calls for action to address why the number of people with nowhere to live is growing despite thousands of unsold houses and apartments lying vacant across the country.

Dublin Simon, the largest of the eight Simon communities, revealed in its latest report how it has recorded a 26% increase in the number of people sleeping rough during the early summer months compared with the same period last year.

It also reported a 35% increase in demand for sleeping packs — essential items to tide people over a night on the street — despite the fact that demand for such help usually falls during the summer months.

In a separate report, Merchants Quay Ireland said it was also providing 1,100 extra meals every week for mainly homeless and financially desperate people compared with the same time last year, a rise of 26%.

Dublin Simon chief executive Sam McGuinness said the figures came despite the group increasing bed numbers by 27% and emergency beds — mattresses on floors — by 100% in response to the past two winters. He said the charity was facing a “demand tsunami” this winter.

“Supply and demand are not in line and for the first time in quite some time. Sleeping bags are being handed out again,” he said.

“The critical issue is that all we can do when we get a bubble like this is stick people in emergency accommodation — 37% of people . . . have been there over five years and 74% have been there over a year.

“That’s an emergency becoming a long-term situation,” he added.

The Simon Communities of Ireland said their services are operating at full capacity across the country.

Niamh Randall, the national research and policy manager, said the surge in Dublin was likely to be replicated. “We wouldexpect to see it first in the urban centres. That’s one of the reasons why the Dublin Simon figures are so worrying.”

Last week, the Government’s own housing needs assessment revealed 98,318 households were on waiting lists for social housing — a 75% increase since 2008 — while 23,000 new homes are estimated to be lying empty with up to 100,000 partially completed units also potentially available.

Merchants Quay Ireland saw a 38% increase in the number of people using its homelessness drop-in service. Chief executive Tony Geoghegan said: “This is an indication of the increasing poverty and desperation experienced by so many in our society.” He said the Government displayed “no sense of urgency” in tackling the problem.

The Department of the Environment is due shortly to complete a review of the previous government’s five-year strategy on homelessness and set new targets for eliminating the numbers sleeping on the streets or in temporary accommodation.

NEWS UPDATE:

Minister to include alcohol in new drugs strategy

The Drugs Minister Roisin Shorthall has said she will be announcing a new strategy to deal with the alcohol problem in Ireland later this year.

The Minister made the comments as she launched Merchants Quay Ireland’s annual report for 2010 which found that the number of people contacting the charity increased by 26%.

Minister Shorthall said, while illegal substance abuse is a major problem in Irelande she also intends to deal with alcohol abuse through the National Drugs Strategy.

OTTAWA, Canada: Safe-Injection Site For Addicts May Remain Open: Supreme Court

30 Sep

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Vancouver’s Insite clinic, the only such safe-injection site for drug addicts in North America, can stay open, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday in a landmark defeat for the federal government.

The country’s top court, slapping down the Conservative government with some harsh language, ruled unanimously that closing the site would threaten the lives of drug users and therefore violate their human rights.

A poster shows how to use a syringe safely inside a safe injection site for drug addicts on Vancouver, British Columbia's eastside

The government, which is pushing a tough-on-crime agenda, said keeping Insite open made a mockery of laws designed to stamp out illegal drug use. The Health Department had said it would not extend a special exemption to drug laws that allowed the site to operate.The court said such a decision would break the principles of fundamental justice and was arbitrary, ordering the health minister to maintain the exemption.

“It is also grossly disproportionate: the potential denial of health services and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to drug users outweigh any benefit that might be derived from maintaining an absolute prohibition on possession of illegal drugs on Insite’s premises,” it ruled.

Insite operates in Vancouver’s poor Downtown Eastside district, one of the most deprived urban areas in Canada. The clinic was set up in 2003 to allow intravenous drug users to shoot up in a place that had medical supervision.

A study in the Lancet medical journal this year said the site had cut drug overdose deaths by 35 percent in the area. Police and local officials had campaigned for it to stay open.

The site’s operators – who argued that drug addiction was a disease – said that, before the site opened, drug users were regularly dying of overdoses on the streets. The Downtown Eastside has around 4,600 intravenous drug users.

Recovered heroin addict Dean Wilson, a member of the board of the users’ group, jumped in the air, whooped loudly and clenched his fists in delight when told of the ruling.

“This just substantiates what I’ve been saying for a long time, that what we’ve been doing is the right thing. This has nothing to do with the law-and-order platform, this has to do with gold standard medical intervention for a group of very very ill people,” he told reporters.

Heroin and cocaine addicts receive clean needles to inject themselves with their own drugs under supervision by a nurse. They can then stay in a special “chill-out” room before returning to the streets.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq will comment on the court ruling later Friday, a spokesman said.

The Conservatives, who won a majority in the May general election, plan to push through tougher laws on crime and open new prisons – moves that critics say are expensive and will put many more people in jail.

“They always took this political ideological partisan position,” said Libby Davies, a legislator for the opposition New Democrats, whose parliamentary constituency includes the Downtown Eastside.

“I want to say to them: Have you now understood, have you learned the importance of what Insite is about? … There have been no deaths from overdoses inside Insite,” she said.

The case name is Attorney General of Canada et al. v. PHS Community Services Society, et al. (Case no: 33556).

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)

Dublin: Ireland May Be Facing ‘Crystal Meth Epidemic’ Says Peter McVerry

30 Sep

The shocking effects of dangerous drug in just 18 months

DUBLIN is facing into an ‘ice’ epidemic, a leading city guardian has warned, after the biggest seizure of crystal meth to date.

Customs officers and gardai intercepted 2.5kg of the substance, also known as glass, with an estimated street value of €250,000 at Dublin Airport.

The haul was discovered when a 39-year-old man arriving from Lesotho, Africa, was stopped and his bags checked.

The drugs were concealed in the framework of two suitcases.

It is unusual that someone tried to bring in such large quantities of crystal meth, given that it is manufactured in labs through a mixture of chemicals and methanol.

“Crystal meth is only starting to arrive in this country but in the US it has devastated families and communities,” said Fr Peter McVerry, who works with drug addicts in Dublin.

“It is highly addictive — you can be addicted after just two or three uses. And it makes your behaviour extremely erratic. You can become extremely aggressive and violent and do almost anything to make money to get another fix,” he told the Herald.

“In my view it’s the most destructive drug on the market anywhere. I think we need to be dealing with this quickly.”

Fr McVerry pointed to the example of crack cocaine.

“Almost overnight, crack cocaine became the drug of choice, first in Ballymun and then around the city.”

Fr McVerry has been told crystal meth is “readily available” in Ballymun.

He has only dealt with one or two crystal meth addicts so far but he fears this could change rapidly. The drug costs less than heroin or cocaine — the street value of a gram is about €25.

A spokeswoman for the Revenue said the airport seizure was a result of “routine profiling” by customs officers.

The suspect was handed over to gardai for questioning and was to appear in court.

It was the first crystal meth seizure at Dublin Airport and the most significant haul of the substance for three years.

“People have been warning about it here for a long time,” said Grainne Kenny of Europe Against Drugs (Eurad).

“It’s a very, very dangerous drug. All drugs are dangerous but that’s particularly lethal.

Crystal meth comes in powder or rocks which can be snorted, smoked, ingested through the mouth or melted and injected. It can cause paranoia, kidney failure and internal bleeding, while a user’s appearance can become haggard.

– Cormac Murphy

www.drugs.ie & www.garda.ie & www.drugsfreeworld.org

London: Online Nicotine Substitute Triples Smoker’s Chances Of Quitting For 12p: Research

29 Sep

A nicotine substitute which can be bought online for just 12p can more than triple a smoker’s chances of quitting for at least a year, new research has shown.

Tabex, which contains the active ingredient cytisine, is obtained from laburnum seeds.

Experts believe the drug is as effective as conventional stop-smoking treatments and could save the NHS millions of pounds a year.

'Penny Pill' Trebles Quit Chance For Smokers

But despite four decades of use in eastern Europe, the pills are unlikely to be available on prescription in the UK for another two to three years.

The British scientist who led the new trial spoke of the “Alice in Wonderland” regulatory system responsible for the delay.

Professor Robert West, from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London, said he expected to see a flood of internet orders for Tabex once news about the drug got out.

“It’s been available in central and eastern Europe for more than 40 years, we have safety data on millions of people, and we know it’s effective, but it’s not licensed in Britain,” he said.

“People can make their own choices. A licence is not a licence to buy, it’s a licence to market. There’s nothing illegal about buying this drug online, but there’s always the risk that you might not get what you expect.”

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which licences drugs for sale in the UK, warned of the risks of buying unregulated drugs over the internet, however.

A spokesman said: “People are advised that they should take prescription-only medicines after an appropriate consultation with their GP.

“Only healthcare professionals can take into account risks and benefits associated with every medicine.

“Anyone who self medicates and buys their medicines from internet sites could be in danger of receiving counterfeit or substandard medicines.

“At best these will be a waste of money, at worst they can kill. You don’t know what these products contain and you don’t know in what conditions they have been made.”

The trial, involving 740 patients, showed that people who wanted to stop smoking were 3.4 times more likely to succeed with Tabex than with a “dummy” placebo tablet.

Participants took between two and six pills per day for 25 days. After treatment, 8.4% of those given Tabex were able to avoid smoking for a year compared with 2.4% of the placebo group.

The low overall success rates reflected how hard it was even for motivated smokers to quit, said the researchers.

NEWS UPDATE:

(Reuters Health) – Cytisine, an extract from the seeds of the Golden Rain acacia that was first marketed in Bulgaria in 1964, can give smokers an inexpensive assist in kicking the habit, according to the first large modern study of the drug.

In the test on 740 volunteers, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 8.4 percent of those who were given cytisine for 25 days stayed off cigarettes for one year, compared with 2.4 percent in the placebo group. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1102035 

That success rate is comparable to treatment with nicotine patches and other anti-smoking drugs like varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban), chief author Robert West of the University College London told Reuters Health.

Chantix is sold by Pfizer Inc and Zyban is a GlaxoSmithKline product.

It also costs much less — a month of cytisine pills, sold in Central and Eastern Europe under the brand name Tabex, costs about $15 in Poland and $6 in Russia. Nicotine patches and pills to stop smoking typically sell for more than $100 per treatment, depending on the country.

“This is off-patent. In theory, anyone can grow this stuff. The pills can be made for practically nothing,” West said.

The drug is not approved in the United States, Japan or Western Europe.

Smoking kills an estimated five million people worldwide each year, and 95 percent of people who try to quit without help fail to stay off tobacco for six months or longer. Most can’t afford some of the drugs found to be effective in improving the quit rate.

Although some previous studies have suggested that cytisine can help smokers quit, they have not been definitive.

“Cytisine has been lurking in the background in tobacco control for quite a while,” said Thomas Glynn, director of international cancer control for the American Cancer Society, who was not connected with the new research.

“There has never been a large well-conducted study done before. This isn’t definitive, but it’s a breakout study for cytisine.”

Because the price is so much lower than other treatments “this will be huge in low-income countries where the tobacco companies are focusing a lot of their effort now,” he told Reuters Health in a phone interview. “With replication, this can make a real difference in public health.”

HALF A PACK, DAILY

The new study was done on volunteers who smoked 10 or more cigarettes per day. At the smoking-cessation clinic of the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Center in Warsaw, the patients were given information about the medicine and tips on how to deal with nicotine withdrawal and cravings.

During the first three days, they were told to take six 1.5 milligram tablets per day, and then begin to taper off cigarettes, with the goal of stopping smoking on the fifth day. Participants continued to take the pills for about three more weeks.

The manufacturer, Sopharma AD in Bulgaria, provided the drugs for the trial.

The patients were judged to have stayed off cigarettes if they reported they had smoked fewer than five cigarettes per month during the year after they stopped taking the pills.

A carbon monoxide breath test, which can detect smoking during the previous day, was used at the six- and 12-month marks to check for abstinence.

The sustained abstinence rate at the one-year mark was three and a half times higher among those getting cytisine than placebo. When the researchers just looked at whether the volunteers were not smoking, the rate was 13.2 percent with cytisine treatment compared to 7.3 percent among placebo patients.

The risks of death, hospitalization and other serious side effects were small and comparable in the two groups. However, complaints of upset stomach, dry mouth and nausea were more common. Nonetheless, a comparable number of people in both groups discontinued treatment.

The researchers cautioned that the study was not large enough to identify uncommon side effects for the drug, which has already been used by more than seven million people.

“There have been reports of neuropsychiatric adverse events, including suicidal ideation, with varenicline, which is a similar class of drug,” they said. “Although the incidence is not higher than would be expected by chance, it seems appropriate to continue to undertake surveillance for such rare events among persons taking cytisine.”

West and Glynn said taking cytisine for more than four weeks might be even more effective.

“We used a dosing schedule over four weeks that is licensed in Poland which, nowadays, would be considered very short,” said West. “So the question is whether moving on to see if you can get better success with 12 weeks, or with the addition of behavioral support, which we know adds quite a bit to the overall effectiveness,” he said.

“But this “is a very useful starting point.”

Editor’s note: Link provided: for readers information only:

Tabex is an original Bulgarian preparation of plant origin, intended for the treatment of tobacco smoking. The preparation is developed on the basis of the alkaloid …

www.tabex.netCached

www.tabex.com – Home

Contact us for all your spring start-up needs: 1-800-661-8179

www.tabex.comCached

www.drugs.ie & www.drugfreeworld.org

New York: Number Of Children On ADHD Drugs Rising

28 Sep

(HealthDay News) — The use of stimulant medications such as Ritalin or Adderall in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is continuing to climb, although at a slower pace than in decades past, a new study finds.

The study’s authors tracked U.S. prescription data from 1996 to 2008. They found the use of ADHD drugs was the highest among kids aged 6 to 12, rising slightly from 4.2 percent in 1996 to 5.1 percent 12 years later.

The most pronounced rise was in older children aged 13 to 18, however. In that group, use of ADHD drugs more than doubled — from 2.3 percent in 1996 to 4.9 percent in 2008. Researchers said that reflects a greater understanding that kids often don’t grow out of ADHD and that symptoms can persist through adolescence and even adulthood.

Overall, about 2.8 million children received a prescription for an ADHD medication in 2008, according to the study.

“This study documents that the use of stimulants has been increasing gradually, but not as much as it increased between 1987 and 1996,” when prescriptions jumped by an average of 17 percent annually, noted study co-author Dr. Benedetto Vitiello, a psychiatrist and researcher at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. “Much of the increase is due to the fact that more adolescents are taking the drug than before.”

Despite worries about “overmedicated” children, the rate of use of ADHD drugs in preschoolers aged 5 and younger actually fell during the study period, from about 3 in 1,000 in 1996 to 1 in 1,000 in 2008, the findings revealed.

“There was a lot of concern about increasing use of this medication in very young children, but it doesn’t seem to be supported by the data, and in any case is very, very low,” Vitiello said.

Dr. Andrew Adesman is an ADHD expert and chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. He believes that “pediatricians have been appropriately reluctant to prescribe medications for very young children.” Adesman was not involved in the research.

The study, conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, is published in the Sept. 28 online edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

More than 5 million U.S. children, or 9.5 percent, have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2007, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kids with the condition may act more impulsively, and have difficulty paying attention and controlling their behavior. Some also have hyperactivity, all of which can raise the risk for injuries and difficulties in school.

ADHD is frequently treated with stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate (best known as Ritalin), and amphetamines (such as Adderall), among other medications.

During the latter part of the last century, stimulant prescription use among kids rose from 0.6 percent of youth in 1987 to 2.7 percent in 1997, according to background information in the study.

The rapid rise came on the heels of the inclusion, for the first time, of attention-deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity, as a distinct problem of childhood in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association.

Prior to that, only hyperactivity disorder was included. And though many kids with attention-deficit disorder have trouble with restlessness, not all have severe enough hyperactivity that it would be brought to the attention of health professionals, experts explained.

In the new study, Vitiello and co-author Samuel H. Zuvekas analyzed data from the AHRQ-sponsored Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a nationally representative annual survey of U.S. households. Among other things, the questionnaire asked parents about ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions taken by their children.

Boys were three times more likely than girls to be prescribed ADHD medications, which fits with other statistics that show more boys are diagnosed than girls, Vitiello said.

Use among white children (4.4 percent) was higher than among black (2.9 percent) or Hispanic children (2.1 percent).

The ADHD medication use rate was highest in kids aged 6 to 12. That makes sense, researchers said, because often ADHD symptoms become problematic when children enter school and struggle to stay focused.

The increase among adolescents may be among children who had ADHD but were able to get by through elementary school, but then struggled in higher grades, Vitiello suggested.

“There is more recognition that the disorder does not disappear with puberty,” he said. “In adolescents, the symptoms become more evident because the academic demands increase. The tasks they have to do in school become more complex. Even though they were able to get by in elementary school and middle school, in high school they become more impaired because their attention is not what it should be.”

The rate of ADHD prescriptions was significantly lower in the West than in other parts of the nation. Researchers aren’t sure why. Two possible reasons could include more parents being reluctant to medicate their children, or school systems that handle kids with ADHD differently, Vitiello noted.

Experts estimate that about 60 percent of children with ADHD are treated with medication, Vitiello said, probably those with the most severe symptoms.

More information

There’s more on ADHD medications at KidsHealth.org

Dublin Airport: Crystal Methamphetamine Worth €250,000 Seized By Authorities: UPDATED

28 Sep

NEWS UPDATE:

DRUG experts have expressed alarm at the first major seizure in Ireland of crystal meth, a highly addictive and destructive drug that has laid waste to many US communities.

Customs and gardaí intercepted 2.5kg of the drug, with an estimated street value of €250,000, at Dublin Airport.

“Crystal meth is one of those drugs that is ‘red flagged’, that everyone is keeping an eye on,” said Dr Des Corrigan, chairman of the National Advisory Committee of Drugs.

“It is well recognised it could get out of hand fairly quickly and become a significant problem rapidly, because of the nature of the drug,” he said. “Our antennae would twitch when there’s a seizure, large or small, to see if it’s the beginning of a trend.”

The haul was discovered when customs officers at Dublin Airport stopped a 39-year-old man from Lesotho, Africa. The drugs were concealed in the framework of two suitcases.

The only other big seizure of methamphetamine here was in powder form.

Dr Corrigan said the drug, also known as “ice” or “crank”, was “significantly worse” than cocaine. “This is due to the length of time it lasts: 10 times longer than cocaine. The typical length is 10 hours, with cocaine it’s around an hour.”

He said the effects were also significantly magnified.

“Hyper-stimulation, risk of paranoia and violence, toxic effects on the heart, and, unlike cocaine, there is neurotoxicity — nerve damage. Crystal methamphetamine is to amphetamine what crack is to cocaine.”

Fr Peter McVerry, who works with homeless people and drug addicts, said he had come across reports of it in the last 12 months.

“I have dealt with a couple of people on crystal meth. My information from drug users is it’s now widespread in Ballymun. The evidence suggested to me was that it was about to come into the country in a big way.

“It is far more destructive than any drug currently on the streets. Now is the time for the Government to take action, before the problem gets out of hand.”

In September 2009, gardaí in Tralee, Co Kerry, made three seizures of crystal meth, including one haul worth €7,500.

In July 2008, gardaí and Customs seized almost 5kg of powder methamphetamine in Birr, Co Offaly.

– HSE drugs helpline: 1800 459459; www.drugs.ie

Drug effects

CRYSTAL METH can be smoked, injected, snorted or swallowed. Often described as the most destructive drug, it increases aggression and has toxic effects on the heart and nerves, and has led to huge increase in petty and serious crime.

————
A man has been detained following the seizure in Dublin Airport of crystal methamphetamine valued at approximately €250,000.
 2.5kg of crystal methamphetamine was seized at Dublin Airport

2.5kg of crystal methamphetamine was seized at Dublin Airport

Crystal methamphetamine valued at approximately €250,000 has been seized in an operation at Dublin Airport.

In a joint operation between Revenue’s customs service and the Garda National Immigration Bureau, 2.5kg of the drug were found concealed in the framework of two suit cases.

A 39-year-old man, who had arrived from Lesotho, is due in court later in relation to the seizure.

Keywords:  dublin airport, drugs seizure, revenue

Copenhagen, Denmark: Erotic Sex Trade Fair Canceled After Fire Guts Arena

28 Sep

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A fire raced through a 73-year-old sports arena in the Danish capital Wednesday, destroying the iconic building just hours before a sex fair was to open, officials said.

About 20 people involved with the erotic trade fair, who were sleeping inside the K.B. Hallen arena when the blaze started, got out safely. Three people were hospitalized with smoke inhalation, but they were discharged later Wednesday.

The blaze most likely started when overheated light bulbs set fire to nearby cardboard boxes inside the 1938 arena, police spokesman Lars-Christian Borg said.

The old-listed Sports Arena KB Hallen blazes as a fire broke out in the morning of the opening of the "Erotic World Messe" in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark, Wednesday, Sept. 28. 2011. The hall was completed in 1938 and was then Europe's largest private sports facilities. (AP Photo/POLFOTO, Jens Dresling) DENMARK OUT

“It has been a very violent fire,”, said Lars Rosenwanger, spokesman for the firefighters. “Everything inside the arena had been destroyed by the blaze. All that’s left is the concrete construction.”

K.B. Hallen was the capital’s main sports, concert and exhibition facility for decades, hosting several international tennis and badminton tournaments, boxing matches, concerts and exhibitions. Tennis greats including Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Boris Becker played in the arena. Louis Armstrong, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones performed there.

“It is a disaster. It has been a gathering point for all of Copenhagen,” arena director Joergen Hansen said.

For several hours, thick smoke billowed from roof of the arena, forming a large plume that was visible over most of Copenhagen. Television footage showed that a large central part of the roof had collapsed.

Firefighters said the blaze was under control by midday.

The fire forced organizers to cancel the five-day sex fair showcasing adult movies, magazines and sex toys that had been set to open at K.B. Hallen on Wednesday. Equipment worth 3 million kroner ($546,500) was destroyed in the fire, event organizer Kenneth Strandby told the TV2 channel.

Adjacent to the arena are two soccer fields that are used by FC Copenhagen for training, 26 tennis courts and three eateries. None of them were affected by the fire, police said.

The arena was named after Koebenhavns Boldklub, one of Europe’s first soccer clubs, founded in 1876. In 1992, it merged with rival team Boldklubben 1903 to become FC Copenhagen, which has relocated to another part of the city.

www.stopthetraffik.org