Russian roulette with Ecstasy

PhD Fellow Max Hecht and Dr Karin Kipper with collaborators looked into the variability in content and dissolution profiles of MDMA tablets collected in the UK and published the results recently in Drug Testing and Analysis.

Ecstasy comes in all shapes, sizes and colours. 3,4-methylenedioxy-met(h)amf(/ph)etamine (MDMA) is the chemical name for a recreational drug taken for its empathogenic “high”, that alters the sensation of energy, empathy and pleasure. MDMA is mainly consumed in the form of tablets.

The trends in dose

To identify the risks associated with MDMA consumption, researchers from the UK and the University of Tartu analysed the drug dose of 412 tablets and, for the first time, studied the dissolution aspects of another 242 tablets collected in the UK in the time period between 2001-2018. Like in other European countries, the MDMA content in tablets is steadily increasing in the last decade, with some recent tablets containing unprecedented high doses.

The variability in dissolution

Dissolution testing is commonplace in the quality control and batch production of tablets in pharmaceutical laboratories and for bioequivalence testing. For MDMA, different dissolution rates were observed, ranging from fully dissolved in 30 min – the fast group, to up to 2 h until the whole content of the drug is completely released (slow group). No significant differences in a dose per tablet could be found between slow and fast releasing groups. As well as there was no association of colour, logo or shape with the dose or dissolution group. 

In conclusion, this means that, while it always is a gamble to take Ecstasy, the ever-present danger of overdosing is also on the rise. You are welcome to read our freshly published article for more details.

One thought on “Russian roulette with Ecstasy

  1. The pills 💊 on the streets now are about a quarter of the strength than the 90’s. I’m a recovering addict and work with young adults that are taking up to 10+ with alcohol and more and more of them opt for the powder molly which is bashed with assorted one of them was sold ketamine and was hospitalised with psychological issues.

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