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PMA

PMA or by its proper name para-Methoxyamphetamine is also know by the names "Death", "Dr. Death", "Chicken Powder", "Chicken Yellow",. PMA is a psychoactive drug. It produces stimulant and psychedelic effects.

PMA has occasionally been found in tablets labeled as "Ecstasy", even though it produces similar, yet notably different effects in comparison to MDMA, the principal ingredient in "Ecstasy". PMA is commonly synthesized from anethole, the flavor compound of anise and fennel, mainly because the starting material for MDMA, safrole, has become less available due to law enforcement action. Once thought to be a human invention, recent research suggests PMA occurs as a trace alkaloid in certain plants.

PMA first came into circulation in the early 1970s, where it was used intentionally as a recreational drug as a substitute for the hallucinogenic properties of LSD. It went by the street names of "Chicken Powder" and "Chicken Yellow" and was found to be the cause of a number of drug overdose deaths (the dosages taken being in the range of hundreds of milligrams) in the United States and Canada from that time. Between 1974 and the mid-1990s, there appear to have been no known fatalities from PMA. Several deaths reported as MDMA-induced in Australia in the mid-1990s are now considered to have been caused by PMA, the users unaware that what they were ingesting was not MDMA but in fact PMA. There have been a number of PMA-induced deaths around the world since then.

Because PMA is given out through the same venues and distribution channels that "Ecstasy" tablets are, the risk of being severely injured, hospitalized or even dying from use of ecstasy increases significantly when a batch of "Ecstasy" pills containing PMA starts to be sold in a particular area. PMA pills could be a variety of colours or imprints, and there is no way of knowing just from the appearance of a pill what drug(s) it might contain. Notable batches of pills containing PMA have included Mitsubishi Turbo or Red/Blue Mitsubishi and Yellow Euro pills.

It appears that PMA elevates body temperatures dramatically and at the same time releasing large amounts of serotonin, effectively causing serotonin syndrome. It appears that PMA activates the hypothalamus much more strongly than MDMA and other drugs like ephedrine, thereby causing rapid increases in body temperature (which is the major cause of death in PMA mortalities). Many people taking PMA try to get rid of the heat by taking off their clothes, taking cold showers or wrapping themselves in wet towels.

PMA has been associated with numerous adverse reactions including death. Effects of PMA ingestion include many effects of the hallucinogenic amphetamines including accelerated and irregular heartbeat, blurred vision, and a strong feeling of intoxication which is often unpleasant. While PMA can reportedly be euphoric at low doses, the dose-response curve is much steeper than that of MDMA, and at higher doses unpleasant effects such as nausea and vomiting, severe hyperthermia and hallucinations quickly overpower any pleasurable effects.

The effects of PMA also seem to be much more unpredictable and variable between individuals than those of MDMA, and sensitive individuals may die from a dose of PMA that a less susceptible person might only be mildly affected by. There are approximately twice as many deaths caused by PMA as by MDMA, even though the actual proportion of PMA on the market is only a fraction of that of MDMA. While PMA alone may cause significant toxicity, the combination of PMA with MDMA has a synergistic effect which seems to be particularly hazardous. Since PMA has a slow onset of effects, several deaths have occurred where individuals have taken a pill containing PMA, followed by a pill containing MDMA some time afterwards due to thinking that the first pill was not active.

PMA overdose can be a serious medical emergency which may occur at only slightly above the usual recreational dose range, especially if PMA is mixed with other stimulant drugs such as cocaine or MDMA. Characteristic symptoms are pronounced hyperthermia, tachycardia and hypertension, along with agitation, confusion and convulsions. PMA overdose also tends to cause hypoglycaemia and hyperkalaemia which can help to distinguish it from MDMA overdose.

It is classified as a Schedule I hallucinogen under the Controlled Substances Act in the United States. Internationally, PMA is a Schedule I drug under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

The first known death in the UK from ingesting PMA was Jeremy Andrew Shaw, who died in 1975. The case was reported in the national newspapers, including the Sun.


 
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