Psychopharmacology

, Volume 214, Issue 3, pp 593–602 | Cite as

Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone; ‘meow meow’): chemical, pharmacological and clinical issues

  • Fabrizio Schifano
  • Antonio Albanese
  • Suzanne Fergus
  • Jackie L. Stair
  • Paolo Deluca
  • Ornella Corazza
  • Zoe Davey
  • John Corkery
  • Holger Siemann
  • Norbert Scherbaum
  • Magi’ Farre’
  • Marta Torrens
  • Zsolt Demetrovics
  • A. Hamid Ghodse
  • Psychonaut Web Mapping
  • ReDNet Research Groups
Review

Abstract

Background

Recently, those substances deriving from the active ingredient of the Khat plant, cathinone, have been rising in popularity. Indeed, 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone; ‘meow meow’ and others) has been seen by some as a cheaper alternative to other classified recreational drugs.

Aims

We aimed here at providing a state-of-the-art review on mephedrone history and prevalence of misuse, chemistry, pharmacology, legal status, product market appearance, clinical/management and related fatalities.

Methods

Because of the limited evidence, some of the information here presented has been obtained from user reports/drug user-orientated web sites. The most common routes for mephedrone recreational use include insufflation and oral ingestion. It elicits stimulant and empathogenic effects similar to amphetamine, methylamphetamine, cocaine and MDMA. Due to its sympathomimetic actions, mephedrone may be associated with a number of both physical and psychopathological side effects. Recent preliminary analysis of recent UK data carried out in 48 related cases have provided positive results for the presence of mephedrone at postmortem.

Discussion and Conclusions

Within the UK, diffusion of mephedrone may have been associated with an unprecedented combination of a particularly aggressive online marketing policy and a decreasing availability/purity of both ecstasy and cocaine. Mephedrone has been recently classified in both the UK and in a number of other countries as a measure to control its availability. Following this, a few other research psychoactives have recently entered the online market as yet unregulated substances that may substitute for mephedrone. Only international collaborative efforts may be able to tackle the phenomenon of the regular offer of novel psychoactive drugs.

Keywords

Mephedrone Meow meow Cathinones Drug misuse Drug-related deaths Psychoactive drugs 

Notes

Funding

The present study was carried out with the support of the European Commission (EC); e.g. for both the Psychonaut Web Mapping System (A/800102; 2006 348) and the ReDNet (EC Executive Agency for Health and Consumers in the framework of the Public Health Programme; 2009 12 26) projects. The views expressed here reflect only the authors’ views and not necessarily those of the relevant EC officers.

Conflict of interest

No conflicts of interest are declared here which may have influenced the interpretation of present data.

Supplementary material

213_2010_2070_MOESM1_ESM.doc (102 kb)
Table 1 Control status of mephedrone in selected countries (as at end of September 2010) (DOC 102 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabrizio Schifano
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Antonio Albanese
    • 2
  • Suzanne Fergus
    • 1
  • Jackie L. Stair
    • 1
  • Paolo Deluca
    • 4
  • Ornella Corazza
    • 1
    • 4
  • Zoe Davey
    • 4
  • John Corkery
    • 3
  • Holger Siemann
    • 5
  • Norbert Scherbaum
    • 5
  • Magi’ Farre’
    • 6
  • Marta Torrens
    • 6
  • Zsolt Demetrovics
    • 7
  • A. Hamid Ghodse
    • 3
  • Psychonaut Web Mapping
  • ReDNet Research Groups
  1. 1.School of Pharmacy, College Lane CampusUniversity of HertfordshireHatfieldUK
  2. 2.Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation TrustHerftordshireUK
  3. 3.International Centre for Drug PolicySt George’s University of LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of Addictions, Institute of Psychiatry LondonKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.LVR-Hospital EssenUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany
  6. 6.Consorci Mar Parc de Salut BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  7. 7.Eötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary

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