Nation of Beancounters

Awesome chemistry paper of the day

Posted in New Ideas by Navin Kumar on February 27, 2012

Sudafed is a used to treat clogged noses. It is also used in the preparation of the illegal and addictive drug crystal meth (not very popular in India, for some reason). Due to this the United States government places restrictions on the purchase of Sudafed. A cheeky, hilarious paper in the wonderfully named Journal of Apocryphal Chemistry explains how you can synthesize this hard-to-obtain drug from a far more commonly available chemical: crystal meth.

A quick search of several neighborhoods of the United States revealed that while pseudoephedrine [Sudafed] is difficult to obtain, N-methylamphetamine [Meth] 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, N-methylmphetamine is becoming an increasingly attractive starting material for pseudoephedrine, as the availability of N-methylmphetamine has remained high while prices have dropped and purity has increased. 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. 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.

UPDATE: A friend of mine (Arnav Kacker) made the following observation:

with regard to popularity in India, you must realize that India has never been and still is not a large market for artificially synthesized narcotics. Marijuana and variants have a long history in culture and cultivation in the region and hence persist where as psychotropics and the like are limited to the hedonism of the affluent but on the street, we don’t see crack whores and heroin mules even though India is a major pit-stop in the heroin supply chain. So, it’s not just crystal meth, it’s the whole genre.

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