This news item was created by students Lori Paleck, Kimberly Dark, Amy Mueller and Mendy Daines as part of their Chemistry 210 Semester Project in WS99 under the guidance of Prof. Rainer Glaser.

Glaser's "Chemistry is in the News"
To Accompany Wade Organic Chemistry 4/e.
Chapter 19. Amines.

For each of the following questions, please refer to the following article:

Department of Justice, Press Release, April 9, 1997.

Editorial Comments

Methamphetamine use has become a large issue in the past several decades. The drug was originally synthesized in the late 1930's to provide energy for Nazi troops. However, methamphetamine recipes quickly seeped into public hands. Because of the stimulant's common household ingredients, methamphetamine production is growing rapidly.

Methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally. Once taken, the drug sends messages to the brain to produce a "feel-good" chemical known as dopamine. This is harmful when produced in large amounts. Dopamine causes irreversible damage in the blood vessels found the brain. Also, with repeated use of methamphetamines, chemical changes can occur in the brain.

Potential hazards affect not only the user, but our environment. Clandestine laboratories produce harmful and even deadly waste. There are a variety of chemicals associated with these labs, which present danger to the producer, the neighborhood, and the environment.

As mentioned in the news article, over-the-counter products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are common ingredients for the synthesis of methamphetamine. Once these chemicals are reduced, they result in the formation of the d-isomer of methamphetamine. The d-isomer is accountable for the stimulating affect that drug users seek. Other products for synthesizing methamphetamine yield both enantiomers. However, this is an undesirable product due to the uselessness of the l-isomer.

The government is currently trying to regulate the sales of certain over-the-counter drugs to help prevent methamphetamine production. However, a certain number of these drugs are protected by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. But other government agencies are immediately addressing the situation. The Department of Toxic Substance Control is implicating plans for the removal of clandestine laboratories nationwide. Unfortunately large budgets, near 10 million dollars, are needed to fund such proposals.

Pertinent Text References
Chapter 19. Amines.
Problem 19-49. Methamphetamine Synthesis. Dopamine Synthesis.


Question 1: Drug manufacturing companies usually store and use amines as their salts. What are the advantages of using an amine's salt compared with the "free" amine?

A. Amine salts have a greater solubility in water than their parent amine, aiding in the conversion to syrups and injectables. Amino salts are also less likely to decompose due to oxidation and other reaction.

Question 2: What is the structure and definition of dopamine? How is the abuse of methamphetamine related to dopamine and its function on the brain?

A. Structure of dopamine on page 904 in Wade Chapter 19. Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain and plays an important role in regulating pleasure. Methamphetamine stimulates increased amounts of dopamine. The brain cells must release an enzyme to kill the excess dopamine cells. With repeated use, methamphetamine can chemically change the normal function of the brain.

Question 3: Methamphetamine is an increasing popular drug among blue collar workers and college-aged students. What effects does usage cause to the human body and what methods of synthesis make methamphetamine so appealing to these groups?

A. Methamphetamines are nicknamed the "poor man's cocaine." It can be produced using over-the-counter drugs and widely available. Methamphetamine can increase physical activity and wakefulness and decrease appetite; desirable results for any student or physical worker.

Question 4: What can the government do to create more public awareness of clandestine laboratories within residential communities?

A. This question is open for discussion.