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Drugnet Europe News from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction — October–December 2012

4-MA — new amphetamine-type stimulant under scrutiny in the wake of deaths

Europe has responded to rising concern over the use of the stimulant drug 4-methylamphetamine (4-MA) by formally requesting a risk assessment on the substance. The exercise will be carried out in Lisbon on 16 November by the EMCDDA Scientific Committee with experts from the European Commission, Europol and the European Medicines Agency. Currently, the substance is not controlled under drug control legislation in most of the EU Member States (1).

The risk assessment will include an examination of the drug’s physical, chemical, pharmaceutical and pharmacological properties and its potential to cause dependence and abuse. Also examined will be the health and social risks associated with the drug, prevalence of use and any involvement of organised crime in its production and distribution.

The exercise is the second stage of a three-step legal procedure through which Europe monitors and acts on new drugs. It was prompted by deaths linked to this substance in Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK (the latter two control the substance) and reports of seizures in 14 European countries. A risk-assessment report will be submitted to the European Commission and Council of the EU after the meeting, on the basis of which the Council may decide to subject the drug to control measures across the EU.

4-MA belongs to the group of synthetic phenethylamines and is closely related to amphetamine. On the illicit market, it appears to be sold as amphetamine or mixed with it. This suggests that, while there is little evidence of a specific demand for 4-MA, amphetamine users may be at greater risk of exposure to the drug should it become more available.

Drugnet Europe is the EMCDDA's newsletter launched in September 1996. The newsletter provides regular and succint information on the Centre's projects and activities to a broad readership.

Page last updated: Thursday, 15 November 2012