The Dim-Post

February 27, 2012

Chemistry paper of the day

Filed under: drugs — danylmc @ 9:34 am

Via Eric Crampton: A Simple and Convenient Synthesis of Pseudoephedrine From N-Methylamphetamine.

The introduction:

Pseudoephedrine, active ingredient of Sudafed®, has long been the most popular nasal decongestant in the United States due to its effectiveness and relatively mild side effects [1]. In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to obtain psuedoephedine in many states because of its use as a precursor for the illegal drug N-methylamphetamine (also known under various names including crystal meth, meth, ice, etc.)[1,2]. While in the past many stores were able to sell pseudoephedrine, new laws in the United States have restricted sales to pharmacies, with the medicine kept behind the counter. The pharmacies require signatures and examination of government issued ID in order to purchase pseudoephedrine. Because the hours of availability of such pharmacies are often limited, it would be of great interest to have a simple synthesis of pseudoephedrine from reagents which can be more readily procured. A quick search of several neighborhoods of the United States revealed that while pseudoephedrine is difficult to obtain,  N-methylamphetamine can be procured at almost any time on short notice and in quantities sufficient for synthesis of useful amounts of the desired material. Moreover, according to government maintained statistics, Nmethylmphetamine is becoming an increasingly attractive starting material for  pseudoephedrine, as the availability of Nmethylmphetamine has remained high while prices have
dropped and purity has increased [2]. We present here a convenient series of transformations using reagents which can be found in most well stocked organic chemistry laboratories to produce psuedoephedrine from N-methylamphetamine. While N-methylamphetamine itself is a powerful
decongestant, it is less desirable in a medical setting because of its severe side effects and addictive properties [3]. Such side effects may include insomnia, agitation, irritability, dry mouth, sweating, and heart palpitations. Other side effects may include violent urges or, similarly, the urge to be successful in business or finance.

My organic chemistry isn’t robust enough to say whether the synthesis is valid.

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40 Comments »

  1. Sweet, a dirty bomb recipe for committing suicide.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 27, 2012 @ 9:41 am

  2. I did notice that the authors are O Hai and I B Hakkenshit..

    Comment by Repton — February 27, 2012 @ 9:51 am

  3. … and that it’s from the Journal of Apocryphal Chemistry

    Comment by kahikatea — February 27, 2012 @ 10:12 am

  4. in other words get some e, throw half of it away and you have that holy grail of medical science – a cure for the common cold.

    Comment by NeilM — February 27, 2012 @ 10:12 am

  5. This simple procedure should see N-methylamphetamine sales rapidly increase. Until such time as its sharper for the meth-makers to sell their psuedoephedrine unmolested.

    Comment by Aztec — February 27, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  6. I told my pharmacist a cople of years ago it was easier to score meth than psuedoephedrine unfortunately my nasal congestion was cancer, but on the bright side cocaine paste was a post operative medication.

    Comment by rrrw — February 27, 2012 @ 10:45 am

  7. @ 4 Has been a while since Chem but can’t concur with your Sudafed (good stuff) from meaowmeaow theory. Undoubtedly a win though if possible.

    Comment by luke — February 27, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  8. Speaking of bad science, on top of the willy-wonker land economics of SoloPassion’s crank Damien Grant we’ve got the well known climate change denier and general crackpot Brian Leyland claiming in today’s Herald that exposing ourselves to radioactive fallout reduces our risk of getting cancer. Or something. Honestly, is there any other country in the world where a self-proclaimed serious broadsheet newspaper of record would print such utterly dangerous shit?

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 27, 2012 @ 11:32 am

  9. @8 yet they give me 48gy for melanoma ? do some more reading and less trolling.

    Comment by rrrw — February 27, 2012 @ 11:41 am

  10. Using a radiation to specifically kill cancerous cells != exposing ourselves to radioactive fallout.

    Comment by wtl — February 27, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  11. Also good: a Cochrane meta-analysis of phenylephrine (replacement of OTC pseudoephedrine).

    “There is insufficient evidence that oral phenylephrine is effective for nonprescription use as a decongestant.” — bless.

    Comment by Hugo Drax — February 27, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

  12. rrrw,

    They gave you that dose of radiation specifically to kills cells. Leyland is presmably talking abut the very flimsy evidence for radiation hormesis – the idea small doses of ionising radiation decrease your cancer risk.

    Comment by David Winter — February 27, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

  13. exposing ourselves to radioactive fallout reduces our risk of getting cancer.

    I can’t comment on the merit’s of the studies Leyland briefly mentions, but I applaud your subtle hysteria-bait when using “fallout” (which conjours up all those images of deformed babies and apocalypse) to refer to radiation exposure near Nuclear powerplants, which is, in cold hard reality, much more akin to standing impatiently in front of your microwave waiting for 2-minute noodles.

    REALLY helpful to the public discourse – top shelf stuff, Sanc.

    Comment by Phil — February 27, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

  14. REALLY helpful to the public discourse – top shelf stuff, Sanc.

    Hell, they took proper precautions to avert radiation induced injuries in the 50s.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 27, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  15. Phil, or flying half way to LA on a 747.

    14. Comments and nothing from P George. Super.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 27, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  16. I learnt from that the surprisingly low toxicity (in relative terms) of chromium hexacarbonyl. With parents like that (chromium VI! Carbonyl groups!) you would have it down as Death in a very small bottle. But no, you need to eat (or inhale) a visible amount to achieve (immediate) death.

    Which is probably a good thing once illicit Codral Old Skool labs startup in our suburbs.

    Comment by Rich — February 27, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

  17. “14. Comments and nothing from P George. Super.”

    He’s alleging over on Kiwiblog that his comments have stopped appearing, insinuating that Danyl’s started sending them to moderation (and then culling them mercilessly). If this is indeed the case, can I just say “That’s a shame” (in the Seinfeldian sense, of course).

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 27, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

  18. He’s alleging over on Kiwiblog that his comments have stopped appearing, insinuating that Danyl’s started sending them to moderation (and then culling them mercilessly).

    Huzzah for the non-existent Dimpost editorial staff!

    Comment by Gregor W — February 27, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

  19. I’d be ok with enforcing a limit on comments of the proportion of votes that your party got, when the poster is a member of a party.

    That would limit Pete to one comment per post or so, I’d say.

    Comment by Greg — February 27, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  20. Hell, they took proper precautions to avert radiation induced injuries in the 50s.

    “Duck and Cover”… That’s the same advice someone gave Lisbeth Salander.

    Jus’ Sayin’.

    Comment by Phil — February 27, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

  21. #4 NeilM,
    ” E ” is MDMA, not crystal meth.

    #16
    Chromium carbonyl is a known human carcinogen, so death is possible from very small quantities, or via explosion if heated to around 200C. It was proposed as a petrol octane-enhancing additive, like alkyl lead compounds – fortunately it wasn’t used because refining changes increased the base petrol antiknock properties above it’s useful range.

    Being carcinogenic makes it high toxicity ( all reasonable measure to prevent exposure are required), Immediate death from poisoning fades into a background hazard for most applications of the compound.

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — February 27, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

  22. You guys know waaay too much about class A’s.

    Comment by stephen — February 27, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

  23. MDMA = 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, if you look at their chemical structures, “mdma” is effectively the methamphetamine molecule with some additional atoms stuck to the side.

    Comment by Rob — February 27, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  24. Stephen – your usual complaint is that people commenting here know waaay to much, full stop.

    That is all, geezer.

    Comment by Grassed Up — February 27, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  25. Grassed up – leave it out pal. If you want a little fight suggest you stalk PG at Kiwiblog.

    Capisci.

    Comment by stephen — February 27, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

  26. What, geezer, no cock sucking or masturbation references? You’re off form, me old china plate, bit of apple and cart.

    That is all.

    Comment by Grassed Up — February 27, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  27. I remember the days when colleagues would bring back bottles of ephedrine pills from NYC to London for the lads to guzzle on the desk during the day.

    Comment by stephen — February 27, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  28. Oh fuck do none of you get irony?

    Comment by gn — February 27, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

  29. @17 and is the sewer going into bat for PG or for DimPost?

    Comment by MeToo — February 27, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

  30. Yes. We do. The efforts to make psuedoephedrine more difficult to obtain have had no discernible impact on the supply of Meth (because this is now manufactured in Mexican factories and smuggled into the USA), thereby simply inconveniencing the poor fucks who just want to get over a head cold. To such an extent that it’s actually easier to reverse engineer Meth back into psuedoephedrine than to meet the draconian requirements of buying it from the chemist. (Well, actually, it isn’t … but that’s the Swiftian conceit behind the article … but don’t tell Pete George, because he’s offended by Swift and so no-one must ever mention him ever or you love child abuse or something).

    Because we recognise and take the irony for granted, we then go off on tangents as the whim strikes us. Except for stephen, who is a chugger.

    Comment by Grassed Up — February 27, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

  31. “@17 and is the sewer going into bat for PG or for DimPost?”

    They don’t seem to care one way or the other … but try mentioning “beneficiaries” or “Labour” just once and watch the fur fly!

    Comment by Grassed Up — February 27, 2012 @ 8:09 pm

  32. G.U, why so O.C.D? Others have moved on. Yar.

    Comment by stephen — February 27, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

  33. “…but I applaud your subtle hysteria-bait when using “fallout”…”

    Ta! I was pretty chuffed with that one myself. As a gentleman amateur I seldom touch the dizzying heights of dog-whistling sophistry of a David Farrar.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 27, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

  34. My dealer never has any decent BuLi anyway

    Comment by Walter White — February 27, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

  35. The efforts to make psuedoephedrine more difficult to obtain have had no discernible impact on the supply of Meth

    maybe you should pop in to a gang headquaters and see what they have to say. It’s made life a bit more difficult.

    Comment by NeilM — February 27, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

  36. As a gentleman amateur I seldom touch the dizzying heights of dog-whistling sophistry of a David Farrar.

    even if you have to say so yourself.

    Comment by NeilM — February 27, 2012 @ 11:22 pm

  37. Crystal meth is a known decongestant with the apparent added advantage of concomitant weight reduction for increasingly-obese NZers, suggesting there’s little point in converting it to pseudoephedrine. Addiction may become a problem – along with other well known side-effects, such as loss of teeth.

    The likelihood of NZ meth manufacturers, who regularly blow up their labs performing simple distillation and reflux operations, being able to handle butyl lithium at commercial quantities without waking the neighbours, is very low. BuLi reacts vigorously with water and spontaneously ignites in air.

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — February 28, 2012 @ 8:54 am

  38. ‘ the urge to be successful in business or finance.’ haha

    Comment by indiginz — February 28, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

  39. @Bruce: compared to nickel tetracarbonyl though, it’s a puppy.

    http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2004/03/28/thing_i_wont_work_with_2_nickel_carbonyl.php

    Probably best left to Los Alamos, where it was used (and possibly still is) in nickel-plating plutonium cores.

    Comment by Rich — February 28, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  40. RIch,

    Indeed, and I suspect that animal welfare advocates would not be to thrilled if we used the traditional exposure indicator provided in laboratories working with Ni(CO)4. It was a canary – as they are very sensitive to nickel carbonyl vapours, and exposure to several ppm may be fatal to humans. It was/is used industrially to purify nickel via the Mond process.

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — February 29, 2012 @ 11:35 am


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