The designer drug is a class of amphetamines with serotonergic effects, para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA, "Death," Dr. Death), also known as 4-methoxyamphetamine (4-MA). In contrast to other medicines in this class, PMA contains no stimulants, euphoric or entactogenic effects and, compared with other psychedelic substances, is more analogous to antidepressants.
PMA has been found in MDMA (ecstasy) tablets, although their effects differ greatly from those of MDMA. In addition, often hospitalization and death for unwitting users have resulted in such deception. PMA usually is synthesized from Anethole, the anise and fennel flavor compound, mainly because MDMA safrole starters are becoming less widely available because of the law enforcement measures that have led to anethole use by illicit drug producers.
Paramethoxyamphetamine and paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) are MDMA-like, also called ecstasy, empathogens. Indeed, most people who take PMA or PMMA claim that they take MDMA. Medicines sold under MDMA may, however, not contain MDMA. A mixture of amphetamines, PMA, PMMA, ketamine, NBOMe, methylone, etc. can exist.
PMAs and PMMAs have stronger (and less euphoric) toxic effects than MDMAs. Such results take a longer time, and people can take another pill under the wrong assumption that the first one did not work. Since the 1970s, PMA and PMMA have been present worldwide including in Australia, and have suffered a series of deaths. Deaths in England and Wales were linked in 2012 and 2013 specifically to PMA or PMMA.
The most common form of PMA is a pill, masked as an ecstasy, and taken orally. However, a growing number of users snort or inject powdered form of drugs in parts of the United States. It is used in blended drinks in some regions. Medicines can also be rectally inserted.
The effect on the body of PMA and ecstasy is similar. Without other medicines, alcohol or caffeine, taking less than 50 milligrams of PMA gives rise to mild signs similar to ecstasy. Increased visual stimulation and rapid, irregular movements of the eyes, an increase of heart rate and blood pressure, movement, muscle spasm, breathing difficulties, and an increase of body temperature.