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Amphetamines/Sympathomimetic Amines

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Principles of Forensic Toxicology

Abstract

Amphetamines and sympathomimetic amines mimic the actions of the endogenous neurotransmitters that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. Amphetamine and methamphetamine are used therapeutically to treat narcolepsy, attention-deficit disorder, and obesity. Sympathomimetic amines that are available therapeutically include phentermine, ephedrine, and pseudoephedrine. Phentermine is used as an appetite suppressant, and ephedrine is used as a vasopressor during resuscitation. Pseudoephedrine is used as an over-the-counter cough and cold medication. These drugs are well-absorbed orally and are generally excreted primarily as unchanged drug in the urine. Because it is easy to synthesize, methamphetamine remains a frequently encountered clandestinely produced controlled substance in the United States. Besides methamphetamine, analogs such as methylenedioxymethamphetamine, methylenedioxyamphetamine, and synthetic cathinones (bath salts) have also appeared on the illicit drug market. These analogs have greater hallucinogenic activity than the amphetamines and sympathomimetic amines. One difference between this class of compounds and other drug classes is that many of these drugs have chiral centers that lead to differences in pharmacologic activity. Therefore, chiral separation of enantiomers may be a component to the analysis of these compounds.

Karla A. Moore was deceased at the time of publication.

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Change history

  • 04 February 2021

    The chapter has been inadvertently published with an incorrect figure. It has now been updated with the correct figure in this revised version of the book.

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Correspondence to Michele M. Crosby .

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Crosby, M.M., Moore, K.A. (2020). Amphetamines/Sympathomimetic Amines. In: Levine, B.S., KERRIGAN, S. (eds) Principles of Forensic Toxicology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42917-1_25

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