The Variability of Ecstasy Tablets Composition in Brazil*

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Abstract

The content of ecstasy tablets has been changing over the years, and nowadays 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is not always present in the tablets. The aim of this study was to investigate the chemical composition in the seized tablets labeled as ecstasy. We analyzed samples from 150 different seizures made by Sao Paulo's State Police by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. MDMA was present in 44.7% of the analyzed samples, and another twenty different active substances were identified in these tablets, such as caffeine, 2C-B, piperazines, amphetamines, phencyclidine, and others. Methamphetamine was present in 22% of these samples. The results demonstrate a huge shift in the pattern of trafficking of synthetic drugs, where MDMA has been replaced in tablets mostly by illicit psychoactive substances, in a clear attempt to bypass the law. The great variability in the tablets composition may lead to an increased risk of drug poisoning.

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