November 11, 1974

Ketamine or Phencyclidine

Author Affiliations

Wayne State University and Lafayette Clinic Detroit
Vanderbilt University Hospital Nashville, Tenn

JAMA. 1974;230(6):824. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240060014014

To the Editor.—  In a recent issue (229:763, 1974), Shaffer describes a series of cases characterized by anesthesia, analgesia, nystagmus, dizziness, diplopia, visual distortions, and psychosis. These findings were attributed to ketamine, a derivative of phencyclidine. Phencyclidine is a major component of street drug preparations.1 In one series, phencyclidine was detected in 184 of 237 street drug samples.2 In liquid form, phencyclidine is sprayed on marihuana, parsley, oregano, or other plant leaves and sold as "angel dust." As a powder, it is marketed as phencyclidine or "peace pills."3 It is frequently sold as LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, cocaine, 3, 4 - methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), tetrahydrocannabinol, and other more "attractive" drugs. Or it may be mixed with these agents.2,3Both ketamine and phencyclidine are sympathomimetic anesthetics.4 However, phencyclidine is a much more potent hallucinogen.4-6The abuse of these compounds is a massive and generally unrecognized problem. Recently, 41