World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0010550228
Reproduction Date:

Title: Α-Methylfentanyl  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia



α-Methylfentanyl (or alpha-Methylfentanyl) is an opioid analgesic that is an analogue of fentanyl.


α-Methylfentanyl was initially discovered by a team at Janssen Pharmaceutica in the 1960s.[1] In 1976 it began to appear on the black market under the name "China White". It was first identified in the bodies of two drug overdose victims in Orange County, California, in December 1979, who appeared to have died from opiate overdose but tested negative for any known drugs of this type.[2] Over the next year there were 13 more deaths and eventually the responsible agent was identified as α-methylfentanyl.[3]

α-Methylfentanyl was placed on the Schedule I list in September 1981, only two years after its appearance on the street, but already other analogues were being developed. Following the appearance of α-methylfentanyl on the market, over 10 new analogues of fentanyl have been reported, starting with para-fluorofentanyl, followed by α-methylacetylfentanyl, then by the highly potent 3-methylfentanyl, and subsequently many others such as β-hydroxyfentanyl, ohmefentanyl, β-hydroxythiofentanyl and β-hydroxy-4-methylfentanyl.[4] The development of such a wide structural family of novel narcotic drugs was a major factor responsible for the implementation of the Federal Analog Act which for the first time attempted to control entire families of drugs based on their structural similarity rather than scheduling each drug individually as they appeared. Whether this has been a successful strategy is debatable: specifying restrictions on new drugs which have not yet been made may only encourage clandestine chemists to become more creative in an attempt to circumvent the legal restrictions.

In 1991, a group of Russian chemistry students discovered a unique synthesis route. Soon, abuse of the drug became widespread, causing a tenth of overdoses in the Moscow region. α-Methylfentanyl became notorious for low safety and production declined.

In August, 2013 the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported in "Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report", 2013,62,703-4, the deaths of 14 intravenous drug users in Rhode Island between March and May, 2013. This was also reported as a "new illicit drug" in the American Chemical Society's "Chemical & Engineering News (Vol. 91, #36 [09SEP2013], pg. 22), with the additional reporting of 50 deaths and 4 non-fatal overdoses in Pennsylvania. This new drug is acetyl-fentanyl, one of the early analogs of fentanyl by Janssen.


α-Methylfentanyl has similar effects to fentanyl. It is less potent by weight due to reduced binding affinity to its target site, yet longer acting as the α-methyl group interferes with binding to metabolic enzymes which break the drug down. The independent discovery of the effect of the α-methyl group on fentanyl also marked the first time clandestine recreational-drug research had an effect on practical scientific research.[5] Since fentanyl itself is highly potent and notorious for causing fatal overdoses when abused, and also very short lasting with recreational users often administering doses every hour, α-methylfentanyl could have several advantages over the parent compound as a recreational drug. Side effects of fentanyl analogues are similar to those of fentanyl itself, which include itching, nausea and potentially serious respiratory depression (namely with overdoses or improper drug-combinations, such as with benzodiazepines) which can be life-threatening. China White is anywhere from 10-1000 times more potent than heroin.

Fentanyl analogues such as α-methylfentanyl and 3-methylfentanyl are often used as the "cut" in small amounts in normal heroin stamps and bags, making them much more potent and profitable when sold as heroin alone due to the advantage of raising the retail price per unit sold.


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.