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September 23, 1988

Designer Drugs

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC

Washington, DC


by M. M. Kirsch, 176 pp, $7.95, Minneapolis, Comp-Care Publications, 1986.

JAMA. 1988;260(12):1791. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410120137045

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Designer drugs, like designer clothes, are produced to sell. They are created and marketed to a clientele of growing size that is looking for an ever more varied or specific experience in a recreational drug. The designer drug is usually a variation on a previously controlled substance.

These drugs, which are manufactured by altering the chemical structure of narcotics, stimulants, or other recreational drugs, produce similar effects. Often, as in the case of "Ecstasy," the effect is preferred to that of the original drug.

Crack has been successfully marketed because its use replaces free-basing in convenient form. It is easily produced from cocaine with little equipment. Similarly, phencyclidine (PCP) can be produced in almost any home or garage laboratory by anyone who is willing and able to follow a simple cookbook.

Synthetic narcotics many times as potent as natural narcotics can be produced by a chemist who has a little