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PMA, PMMA spotted in US (2/23/04)
The February issue of the US DEA's Microgram Bulletin has reported the seizure of a small batch of light purple logo-less tablets containing PMMA (para-methoxymethamphetamine) as well as some gel-caps containing PMA (para-methoxyamphetamine.) PMA gained infamy by causing twenty or so deaths when a criminal group began selling PMA tablets as 'ecstasy' in the late 1990s. PMA is believed to have an unusually strong effect on blood pressure, pulse, and body temperature, making it considerably more dangerous than MDMA at the same dose. Compounding the dangers of this greater strain on the body, PMA seems to take longer to take effect, potentially causing 'ecstasy' users who believe they have been sold real MDMA to take additional pills when, after waiting what would be a reasonable onset time for MDMA (30-50 minutes) nothing has happened. The potential result is an accidental overdose.
The attraction of PMA to the drug trade is that it can be synthesized with cheap, readily available chemicals, while the equivalent chemicals needed to make MDMA are tightly controlled by the government (a fine example of how well-intentioned policies often have unforeseen consequences.)
Much less is known about PMMA, although it's believed to be less potent than PMA. Both drugs are (like most of the amphetamine class) potentially neurotoxic at high doses in lab experiments, although this may not translate into a significant risk for human recreational users.
The seized PMMA tablets.
• Blatant editorializing: People who make and sell 'fake' ecstasy tablets are scum and should have their heads left on pikes as a warning to others.