|Systematic (IUPAC) name|
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Methoxetamine (MXE), or 3-MeO-2-Oxo-PCE is a dissociative anesthetic that has been sold as a designer drug. Methoxetamine differs from many dissociatives such as ketamine and phencyclidine that were developed as pharmaceuticals in that it was designed for grey market distribution. Pharmacologically, methoxetamine acts as a NMDA receptor antagonist. Unlike the related compound ketamine, MXE has appreciable affinity for the serotonin transporter.
The qualitative effects of methoxetamine were first described online in May 2010 and the compound became commercially available on a small scale in September 2010, by November use and sale of the methoxetamine had increased enough for it to be formally identified by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. By July 2011, the EMCDDA had identified 58 websites selling the compound at a cost of 145–195 euros for 10 grams. MXE remains popular despite bans in many countries
Methoxetamine is reported to have a similar effect to ketamine, with increased potency and duration. Methoxetamine was often believed to possess opioid properties due to its structural similarity to 3-OH-PCP, but this assumption is not supported by data, which shows insignificant affinity for the µ-opioid receptor. Recreational use of Methoxetamine has been associated with hospitalizations in the US and UK. Acute reversible cerebellar toxicity has been documented in three cases of hospital admission due to methoxetamine overdose, lasting for between one and four days after exposure.
Methoxetamine was designed in part to prevent the urotoxicity associated with ketamine abuse; it was thought the compound's increased potency and reduced dose would limit the accumulation of urotoxic metabolites in the bladder. Like ketamine, methoxetamine has been found to produce bladder inflammation and fibrosis after high dose, chronic administration in mice. Reports of urotoxicty in humans have yet to appear in the medical literature.
It is thought that methoxetamine may be an effective, fast-acting antidepressant like other NMDA antagonists. Its activity at other receptors may contribute to this.
On June 16, 2014, the European Commission proposed that MXE be banned across the European Union, subjecting those in violation to criminal sanctions. This is following the procedure for risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances set up by the Council: Decision 2005/387/JHA.
Prior to March 2012, MXE was not controlled by the UK's Misuse of Drugs Act. In March 2012, the Home Office referred MXE to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for possible temporary controlling under the powers given in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. The ACMD gave their advice on March 23, with the chair commenting that "the evidence shows that the use of methoxetamine can cause harm to users and the ACMD advises that it should be subject to a temporary class drug order." In April 2012, methoxetamine was placed under temporary class drug control, which prohibits its import and sale for 12 months.
- Theresa May commented in her reply to the ACMD that "the next step in this process is for the ACMD to undertake a full assessment of methoxetamine for consideration for its permanent control under the 1971 Act." She goes on to say that she hopes the ACMD will do this as a part of the review of ketamine, "including its analogues" and that this review will be completed "within the 12 months from the making of the current order".
- On October 18th 2012 the ACMD released a report about MXE, saying that the "harms of methoxetamine are commensurate with Class B of the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971)", despite the fact that the act does not classify drugs based on harm. The report went on to suggest that all analogues of MXE should also become class B drugs and suggested a catch-all clause covering both existing and unresearched arylcyclohexamines.
- MXE ceased to be covered by the temporary prohibition on 26 February 2013, when it became classified as a Class B drug.
MXE is not scheduled at the federal level in the United States, but it is possible that it could be considered an analog of PCE, in which case purchase, sales, or possession could be prosecuted under the Federal Analog Act.
Mixmag reported in January 2012, that people in the dance music and clubbing community have given methoxetamine the slang name 'roflcoptr'. Vice commented that it was likely that the phrase will only be used by "the same politicians, parents and journalists" who called mephedrone 'meow meow'. After being called mexxy in UK Home Office press releases, the media adopted the name.
A literature review was published in March 2012 which looked at scientific literature and information on the web. It concluded that "the online availability of information on novel psychoactive drugs, such as methoxetamine, may constitute a pressing public health challenge. Better international collaboration levels and novel forms of intervention are necessary to tackle this fast-growing phenomenon."
A forensic standard of Methoxetamine is available, and the compound has been posted on the Forendex website of potential drugs of abuse.
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- Morris, H.; Wallach, J. (2014). "From PCP to MXE: a comprehensive review of the non-medical use of dissociative drugs". Drug Testing and Analysis.
- Morris, H. (2011-02-11). "Interview with a ketamine chemist: or to be more precise, an arylcyclohexylamine chemist". Vice Magazine. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
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- Kjellgren, A.; Jonsson, K. (2013). "Methoxetamine (MXE) – A Phenomenological Study of Experiences Induced by a "Legal High" from the Internet". Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 45 (3): 276. doi:10.1080/02791072.2013.803647.
- Coppola, M.; Mondola, R. (2012). "Methoxetamine: From drug of abuse to rapid-acting antidepressant". Medical Hypotheses. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2012.07.002.
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- Shields, J. E.; Dargan, P. I.; Wood, D. M.; Puchnarewicz, M.; Davies, S.; Waring, W. S. (2012). "Methoxetamine associated reversible cerebellar toxicity: Three cases with analytical confirmation". Clinical Toxicology 50 (5): 438–440. doi:10.3109/15563650.2012.683437. PMID 22578175.
- "Pair hospitalised after taking designer drug mexxy". BBC News. April 7, 2014.
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- §1308.11 Schedule I.
- Florida Statutes - Chapter 893 - DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION AND CONTROL
- Beaumont-Thomas, B. (2012-01-18). "Methoxetamine is a new chemical analogue of ketamine. It's legal, it's cheap and it's trippy as hell - but is it safe?" (249). London, UK: Mixmag. p. 60.
- Miller, A. (2011-02-11). "We Interviewed the Inventor of Roflcoptr, the New Drug Britain's Panicking About". Vice Magazine. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
- "Legal high drug 'mexxy' banned under new government powers". The Guardian (London). 28 March 2012.
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- Southern Association of Forensic Scientists http://forendex.southernforensic.org/index.php/detail/index/602
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