Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) is a novel psychoactive substance popular among drug users because it displays similar effects to MDMA (3,4-metylenedioxymethamphetamine, ecstasy). Mephedrone consumption has been associated with undesirable effects and fatal intoxications. At present, there is no research available on its pharmacological effects in humans under controlled and experimental administration. This study aims to evaluate the clinical pharmacology of mephedrone, and its relative abuse liability, compared to MDMA. Twelve male volunteers participated in a randomized, double-blind, crossover, and placebo-controlled trial. The single oral dose conditions were: mephedrone 200 mg, MDMA 100 mg, and placebo. Outcome variables included physiological, subjective, and psychomotor effects, and pharmacokinetic parameters. The protocol was registered in ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02232789). Mephedrone produced a significant increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and pupillary diameter. It elicited stimulant-like effects, euphoria, and well-being, and induced mild changes in perceptions with similar ratings to those observed after MDMA administration although effects peaked earlier and were shorter in duration. Maximal plasma concentrations values for mephedrone and MDMA peaked at 1.25 and 2.00 h, respectively. The elimination half-life for mephedrone was 2.15 and 7.89 h for MDMA. In a similar manner to MDMA, mephedrone exhibits high abuse liability. Its earlier onset and shorter duration of effects, probably related to its short elimination half-life, could explain a more compulsive pattern of use as described by users.
Papaseit, E., Pérez-Mañá, C., Mateus, J. A., Pujadas, M., Fonseca, F., Torrens, M., … & Farré, M. (2016). Human Pharmacology of Mephedrone in Comparison to MDMA. Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/npp.2016.75
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