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Concept: Pseudoephedrine


INTRODUCTION: Systemic and topical nasal decongestants are widely used in otorhinolaryngology and general practice for the management of acute rhinosinusitis and as an adjuvant in certain forms of chronic rhinosinusitis. These products, very effective to rapidly improve nasal congestion, are sometimes available over the counter and can be the subject of misuse, which is difficult to control. The Société Française d'ORL has recently issued guidelines concerning the use of these decongestants in the doctor’s office and the operating room. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The review of the literature conducted by the task force studied in detail the concepts of “rebound congestion” and “rhinitis medicamentosa” often reported in a context of misuse, particularly of topical nasal decongestants. The clinical and histopathological consequences of prolonged and repeated use of nasal decongestants have been studied on animal models and healthy subjects. RESULTS: Discordant results have been obtained, as some authors reported a harmful effect of nasal decongestants on the nasal mucosa, while others did not identify any significant changes. No study has been able to distinguish between inflammatory lesions induced by chronic rhinosinusitis and lesions possibly related to the use of nasal decongestants. DISCUSSION: The task force explained the rebound congestion observed after stopping nasal decongestant treatment by return of the nasal congestion induced by rhinosinusitis and rejected the concept of rhinitis medicamentosa in the absence of scientific evidence from patients with rhinosinusitis. CONCLUSION: Nasal decongestants are recommended for the management of acute rhinosinusitis to reduce the consequences of often disabling nasal congestion. They are also recommended during rhinoscopic examination and for preparation of the nasal mucosa prior to endonasal surgery.

Concepts: Sinusitis, Topical, Mucus, Pseudoephedrine, Nasal congestion, Topical decongestant, Rhinitis medicamentosa, Decongestant


A number of methods of clandestine manufacture of methylamphetamine involve the extraction and subsequent reaction of pseudoephedrine hydrochloride with other essential chemicals. The precursor can be easily extracted from over-the-counter medication widely available in the UK and elsewhere. Essential chemicals such as iodine and red phosphorous are also readily available and can be extracted from iodine tinctures and matchboxes, respectively. This work reports the repetitive preparation of methylamphetamine using two popular routes (the Moscow and Hypophosphorous synthesis). The focus was on the extraction solvent used for isolation of the precursor chemical and any consequential isotopic variation which may arise in the final product. Six batches of methylamphetamine were prepared under precisely controlled conditions for each synthetic route and for each of three different precursor extraction solvents. Synthesis of the final product from laboratory grade precursor using the synthetic methods described was used as a template for comparison. The resultant IRMS data from all 48 prepared samples suggests some underlying trends in the identification of the synthetic route which may aid in the interpretation of IRMS data derived from clandestine samples.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Over-the-counter drug, Food and Drug Administration, Methamphetamine, Clandestine chemistry, Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine, Phenylpropanolamine


Intranasal medication for eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) is an established practice in otolaryngology through the effects of steroids, decongestants, antihistamines or a combination of the above in reducing tubal oedema. The author has previously argued that a double-blind, randomised control trial would be helpful in determining effectiveness of treatment, if a standardised head position, chiefly Mygind or Ragan, was adopted to maximise intranasal drop delivery into the eustachian tube orifice. One recent paper suggests that intranasal treatment is not very effective, but ultimately does not state whether a standardised head position was adopted. Although a large body of evidence supports the hypothesis that the nasal passages are the route to middle ear disease, there is as yet no paper that has been published that has specifically addressed this issue, therefore the author must conclude that evidence to support intranasal treatment for ETD is still lacking and further research is desirable.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness, Auditory system, Middle ear, Eustachian tube, Otitis media, Ear, Pseudoephedrine


This paper focuses on the determination of route specific impurities produced when methylamphetamine is synthesised using the Birch reduction. Previous work available in the scientific literature reported only one route specific impurity using ephedrine hydrochloride as the starting material. In this paper we investigated the impurity profiles of methylamphetamine produced from both the salt and base forms of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. A new previously unreported route specific impurity was revealed as was the potential absence of the previously reported impurity in the profile of samples prepared from the free base.

Concepts: Lithium, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, Clandestine chemistry, Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine, Methcathinone, Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005


A recent government’s prohibition policy in Poland was partially successful with a reduction of the synthetic drugs market and a decrease in drug-related poisoning mortality rates. However, a new threatening trend is observed. There are a growing number of individuals in Poland and other European countries using legal pharmaceuticals containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to produce stimulants. This case report describes a history of a male patient with polysubstance dependence who administered self-designed ephedrone derived from Sudafed using potassium permanganate. He revealed significant clinical symptoms of manganese-induced parkinsonism. No effective treatment could be recommended. Awareness of this severe neurological and social consequences should lead to prevention efforts including educational programs and initiatives reducing availability of the legal medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. More research is needed to enhance our knowledge about manganism and potential treatment regimens.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Drug, Pharmaceutical drug, Methamphetamine, Recreational drug use, Pseudoephedrine, Manganese, Methcathinone


Due to their vasoconstrictive action on the nasal mucosa, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are highly efficient amines for relief of nasal congestion. As with any vasoconstrictor and as underscored by the French Society of Otorhinolaryngology in its 2011 guideline, these molecules should not be used in patients under the age of 15. Furthermore, due to unpredictable severe cardiovascular and neurological adverse events that may occur even at low dose and in the absence of any pre-existing pathology, they should not be prescribed for the common cold, and ENT physicians must carefully weigh the risk/benefit ratio in patients with allergic rhinitis. Distribution should be regulated and over-the-counter sales banned.

Concepts: Asthma, Influenza, Mucus, Common cold, Pseudoephedrine, Rhinovirus, Nasal congestion, Decongestant


BACKGROUND: This qualitative historical policy analysis explores Japan’s early postwar market for hiropon (methamphetamine/meth) and the impact of its anti-hiropon campaigns. The paper traces the origins of medical methamphetamine production in prewar Japan; known at that time by its former brand-name, ‘Philopon’ (pronounced hiropon), and argues that the anti-meth ‘shock-horror’ campaigns of the 1950s were exacerbated by long-simmering animosity toward non-Japanese residents - especially Koreans and Taiwanese. METHODS: Through an analysis of both English- and Japanese-language source materials, the paper explores the gritty, frightening themes of Japan’s 1950s-era anti-meth propaganda campaigns and the parallel effort by police to arrest, prosecute, and deport members of the resident Korean and Taiwanese communities. RESULTS: The author demonstrates that by incorporating a wider variety of contemporary Japanese-language sources such as news reports and anti-drug propaganda materials about the postwar hiropon trade, we may more fully appreciate the historic, underlying social tensions behind the swift and targeted public response. CONCLUSION: The author concludes that Japan’s postwar federal and municipal governments, together with police and media agencies, cultivated a sensational ‘drug panic’ designed both to dissuade citizens from using hiropon and to fuel a concerted police campaign against non-Japanese involved in the meth trade.

Concepts: Heroin, Amphetamine, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, MDMA, Clandestine chemistry, Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine


Clandestine chemists have demonstrated an ability to convert commercially available pseudoephedrine formulations to methamphetamine. Some of these formulations have properties that manufacturers claim limit or block the extraction of pseudoephedrine and its direct conversion to methamphetamine. In this study, 3 commercially available pseudoephedrine formulations were evaluated for ease of extraction and conversion to methamphetamine using a common chemistry technique called the one-pot method that is frequently employed by clandestine chemists. Two marketed pseudoephedrine formulations with claimed tamper-resistant properties - Zephrex-D® and Nexafed® - were compared to Sunmark®, a comparator formulation of pseudoephedrine without tamper-resistant properties. Particle size reduction was conducted using 8 readily available tools; solubility was assessed using 2 common aqueous solutions and various reaction conditions (e.g., temperature, stirring); extractability was evaluated using 8 common organic solvents. The one-pot (single vessel) method commonly used in clandestine processes was employed; chemicals and equipment were purchased locally on the open market. Quantities and addition times of the chemicals used to carry out the procedure and the duration of the reaction were varied to determine the effect on methamphetamine yield. The procedure was appropriately scaled and conducted in a controlled environment to reduce risk and maximize yields. Pseudoephedrine and methamphetamine were quantified using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Standard quantitative procedures were used to determine the quantities of pseudoephedrine and methamphetamine recovered and produced, respectively. Particle size reduction resulted in some loss of material of each pseudoephedrine formulation; Zephrex-D tablets were broken down to a coarse material; Nexafed and Sunmark tablets were reduced to a fine powder. The solubility rates of intact and ground tablets varied by product; Zephrex-D was most resistant to solubilizing while Nexafed and Sunmark were comparable and dissolved completely, demonstrating no solubility-resistant properties. Conditions of the one-pot method were modified throughout the studies to increase methamphetamine yield. Using optimal parameters identified in these studies and allowing the reaction to proceed for 90 min, average percent conversions were similar for the 3 formulations: 43.3% for Zephrex-D, 46.4% for Nexafed, and 48.6% for Sunmark. The greatest conversion occurred with a 150 min reaction time and resulted in 44.8%-48.4% conversion of Zephrex-D, 54.1%-66.4% conversion of Nexafed, and 58.6%-71.8% conversion of Sunmark. This series of methodological evaluations demonstrated that clandestine chemists can readily produce similar yields of methamphetamine using pseudoephedrine products with and without claimed tamper-resistant technology.

Concepts: Chemistry, Solvent, Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, Yield, Methamphetamine, Pharmaceutical formulation, Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine


Phenylephrine hydrochloride (HCl) is a decongestant available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Previously marketed prescription products contained phenylephrine tannate, an extended-release salt, which allowed dosing every 8-12 h. Given the regulatory history that cold medicines marketed before 1962 had limited supporting clinical data, and with widespread replacement of pseudoephedrine by phenylephrine in OTC products over the last ten years, the need for contemporary studies grew. This exploratory crossover study evaluated effects of salt form, acetaminophen, and food on phenylephrine pharmacokinetics and metabolites in healthy adults. Test treatments were 25 mg phenylephrine tannate (equivalent to 10 mg phenylephrine HCl) combined with 200 mg guaifenesin, fasted; 10 mg phenylephrine HCl combined with 650 mg acetaminophen, fasted; and 10 mg phenylephrine HCl, fed. The reference treatment was 10 mg phenylephrine HCl, fasted. Plasma phenylephrine pharmacokinetics and urine metabolites were determined. Although the tannate salt slowed phenylephrine absorption compared with the HCl salt, terminal concentrations were similar, suggesting that products containing the tannate salt should not be dosed less frequently than those containing the HCl salt. The premise that acetaminophen increases phenylephrine bioavailability by competition for presystemic sulfation was corroborated by increased phenylephrine sulfate in urine. Food delayed phenylephrine absorption, but not the total amount absorbed.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Over-the-counter drug, Pseudoephedrine, Rhinitis medicamentosa, Decongestant, Phenylephrine, Sudafed, Decongestants


Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) affects approximately 1% of adults in the general population. Non treated Eustachian tube dysfunction can result in chronic middle ear diseases, which have been shown to significantly affect taste sensitivity. A promising treatment is balloon dilatation of the Eustachian tube. The primary aim of the present study was to investigate whether individuals with ETD had impairment in chemosensory functions, and the changes of the chemosensory function after balloon dilatation of the Eustachian tube.

Concepts: Auditory system, Middle ear, Eustachian tube, Otitis media, Ear, Pseudoephedrine, Patulous Eustachian tube