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Warning: pills sold as ecstasy found to contain PMA

Over the last few months a number of deaths in Europe, Australia and the United States have been attributed to ingestion of pills which were sold as ecstasy but contained an entirely different substance - para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA).

PMA can seem like 'weak' ecstasy at low doses - it takes about half an hour longer to come on, then produces mild euphoria, minor hallucinations and a stimulant effect. However, at higher doses it causes dramatic increases in temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, potentially leading to convulsions, coma and death.

According to the London Toxicology Group, ChEckiT in Austria analysed 48 tablets (September 2000) sold as Ecstasy and found that 4 contained about 40 mg PMA in combination with PMMA and amphetamine. They had the Mitsubishi logo, were red, 7 mm in diameter and 5 mm thick and weighed 230 mg. They were sold as 'red Mitsubishi' or 'killer'.

Mitsubishi pills tested by Dancesafe in the States and found to contain PMA were white, 7 mm diameter and 5 or 6 mm thick. They are also aware of beige pills, with the same dimensions and logo, containing PMA.
In all cases tested so far the pills were unusually thick, with a 'double-stacked' look.

PMA is thought to produce no colour change when tested with Marquis reagent.

For further information, including structures, metabolism and analysis charts go to the London Toxicology website at

For further information on the PMA situation in the States, go to Dancesafe