Ecstasy-like drug PMA implicated in Liverpool fatality

A Liverpool coroner has warned drug users that a batch of tablets containing the ecstasy-like drug PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) may be circulating in the area. Douglas Fraser issued the warning after recording a verdict of death due to non-dependent use of drugs at the inquest of a 29-yearold Toxteth man, Lee Monaghan, who was found dead at his home on June 8. The investigating pathologist, Dr Jonathan Medcalf, said that Mr Monaghan had a fatal concentration of PMA in his system when he died, as well as traces of alcohol and cocaine. Paramethoxyamphetamine has been used as a recreational drug since the 1970s and has had short periods of popularity in Australia, Canada and Scandinavia.

The substance is a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The drug may be sold as ecstasy or it may be referred to by street names such as ‘cloverleaf’ or ‘Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)’. The drug is chemically similar to MDMA and effects include an increase in energy, visual distortions, a general feeling of changes to consciousness and hallucinations. Reactions after ingestion can include pupil dilation, erratic eye movements, muscle spasms, sharp increases in body temperature, nausea and vomiting. In some cases the drug can lead to convulsions, coma and death.

Anecdotal reports suggest that people who may be used to taking MDMA may find that PMA does not act as quickly as they would normally expect. Users should be warned not to redoes too quickly as increasing the concentration of PMA in the body increases the risk of adverse effects, including fatalities. According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency, doses of less than 50 milligrams (usually one pill) cause symptoms like MDMA, while dosages over 60-80 mg (lower than those used regularly for MDMA) are considered potentially lethal. DrugScope has ascertained that press reports suggesting that Mr Monaghan’s death was the first in the UK to be attributed to the drug are inaccurate. The National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths confirmed that PMA toxicity was implicated in the death of a 21-year-old Cornish man who died in August 2001.

Source:  Drugscope Sept.2011

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