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December 12, 1986

A Growing Industry and Menace: Makeshift Laboratory's Designer Drugs

JAMA. 1986;256(22):3061-3063. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380220011003

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ESTIMATED TO BE a billion dollar (and growing) industry by the Drug Enforcement Administration, so-called designer drugs represent the flip side of specifically engineered legitimate pharmaceuticals. They are synthetic chemicals designed in makeshift laboratories to elicit specific responses and then sold on the street to drug abusers.

Another term that some persons concerned with the problem use for these drugs is "controlled substances analogues." Today, these drugs include analogues of fentanyl; meperidine, particularly MPPP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-propionoxypiperidine) and PEPAP (1 [2-phenylethyl]-4-acetyloxypiperidine); phencyclidine hydrochloride (PCP); the phenylisopropylamine methylenedioxy-amphetamine (MDA); and MDA's Nmethyl analogue (MDMA).

Designer drugs can be made-to-order or substituted without the buyer's knowledge for such drugs as heroin. "The term 'designer drugs' was originally coined to mean the manufacture of synthetic drugs designed to the consumer's specifications," Mark W. Stanford, PhD, clinical director of the Pathway Society, Inc, in Santa Clara, Calif, told a Boston audience at this fall's North American