Mephedrone legal alternatives just as risky, say experts
Wednesday 07 July 2010
Many of the legal alternatives to mephedrone available on the internet contain the same substance or related chemicals and are just as risky, experts warn today.
Mephedrone was widely sold as a "legal high" until it was banned in April following the deaths of two teenagers. Louis Wainwright, 18, and Nicholas Smith, 19, died in March, sparking concern about the stimulant. Toxicology tests in May showed they had not taken the drug.
Mephedrone, also known as Meow Meow, Bubbles and M-Cat, is made up of a compound class called cathinones. It is now a Class B drug.
Today, experts from Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Liverpool and Lancaster University, say many drugs being sold as substitutes for mephedrone are also cathinones.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, they say that "one of the most prominently discussed second-generation products" is Energy 1 (also called NRG-1 or naphyrone).
"These products are offered as legal substitutes for the recently criminalised 'legal highs', the mephedrone derivatives," they write.
The researchers bought 17 drugs from 12 UK-based websites over a six-week period following mephedrone's ban.
They chemically analysed the drugs and found that most of the "NRG-type products were recently banned cathinones that just carried a new label".
They write: "This suggests that both consumers and online sellers are, most likely without knowledge, at risk of criminalisation and potential harm.
"This has important health and criminal justice consequences that will require carefully thought-out responses and further investigation."
Simon Brandt, a senior lecturer in analytical chemistry at John Moores, said: "The analysis showed that those sold as legal alternatives turned out to be related to mephedrone and some of them were just, in fact, mephedrone.
"About 70 per cent contained mephedrone or mephedrone-related products. When we analysed these white powders we found cathinones, related products or a mixture. Nobody knows what the health effects of these mixtures are, or what they could be."
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is due to publish advice today on NRG-1. It is widely expected to recommend the drug is banned.
Life & Style blogs
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
Paris Fashion Week: Skirting the issue for the stylish boys' brigade
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
Miss Universe 2015: A beefeater, a yellow tree and an entire hockey game - the bizarre national costumes
- 1 Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors: 'I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK'
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...