POLICE have issued a warning about dangerous ecstasy pills being sold in Greater Manchester after three teenagers from Bury were left seriously ill in hospital after taking them.

The pills sold as MDMA (ecstasy) and bearing the UPS logo have been found to contain an "extremely high dose" of an hallucinogenic stimulant drug, which can be fatal.

Anyone in possession of such pills is urged to dispose of them by flushing them down the toilet.

Police described the pills as "badly made and crumbly" and said they are believed to have been homemade.

They are beige in colour and smell of vomit, police say.

When tested the pills were found to be cut with Alpha-PVP, a dangerous synthetic stimulant, at levels of up to eight times higher what is normally considered a strong dose of the drug.

The warning circulated by police said: "These pills contain extremely dangerous doses of Alpha-PVP. Do not take them.

"If you have any please dispose of them down the toilet. In case of any concerns or emergency ring for an ambulance."

Alpha-PVP, also known as flakka, can cause racing heart rate, agitation, high blood pressure, hallucination and delirium and can be fatal, especially when combined with other drugs.

The chemical was developed in the 1960s that has frequently been sold as a designer drug.

The warning comes after two 15-year-old boys and a 14-year-old boy were admitted to hospital after taking UPS marked pills on January 17, and police were called.

The three boys experienced a "severe adverse reaction" to the drugs that lasted 20 hours.

Their symptoms included psychosis, severe paranoia and distress.

One of the 15-year-olds was put in an induced coma and the 14-year-old's condition was at first described as being critical.

All three remain in hospital in a "serious condition".

One of the teenagers was initially arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply but was taken taken to hospital when he became unwell and was later de-arrested.

On January 18 a 21-year-old man was taken into custody in connection with the incident, but has since been bailed pending further enquiries.

And a 40-year-old woman who was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply drugs has similarly been bailed.

The incident is not the first time that warnings have been issued about UPS pills.

In 2015 six young people collapsed after taking UPS marked MDMA pills at a dance music gig in Middlesbrough.

At the time drugs charity The Loop warned that the pills were three times as potent as average MDMA.

The charity said that the pills were circulating in Manchester and Lancashire but were believed to have originated in Switzerland.

Warnings about similar UPS pills were also circulated last summer.

In August 2018 dance music periodical Mixmag published a report after yellow UPS pills were found being sold at Cheshire's Creamfields Festival ­— again cut with Alpha-PVP.

Health experts advise ecstasy users to take regular breaks from dancing, cool down, stay hydrated and avoid mixing it with alcohol and other drugs.