Tox Tuesdays: PMA


Courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (via Wikimedia Commons)

Appearances can be deceiving when it comes to PMA.

Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) is a structural analog of ecstasy (MDMA) and often looks very similar to ecstasy. Unlike ecstasy, PMA isn’t necessarily sought out. Rather, some researchers believe many people who take PMA think it is ecstasy (both come in pill form). Although its effects are similar, recent cases have shown it may be more dangerous (Kraner and others). PMA has been linked to several deaths across the United Kingdom (U.K.) this year.

Much like ecstasy, PMA causes hallucinogenic effects linked to the release of serotonin. It can take up to an hour for users to feel its effects, which often causes them to take more of the drug, according to The Guardian. People who have overdosed on PMA often become overheated and can display tachycardia (racing heart) and rhabdomyolysis.

In 1973, PMA became a Schedule I drug in the U.S., meaning it has no medically-approved use and has a high potential for abuse. Likewise, ecstasy became a schedule I drug in 1985. In the United Kingdom, PMA is a class A drug, which carry the highest penalties for possession, supply and production.


Kraner J, McCoy D, Evans M, Evans L, Sweeney B. Fatalities caused by the MDMA-related drug paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA). Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 2001 October; 25: 645-648

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