A review of impurity profiling and synthetic route of manufacture of methylamphetamine, 3,4-methylene

Natasha Stojanovska, Shanlin Fu, Mark Tahtouh, Tamsin KELLY, Alison Beavis, Paul Kirkbride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Amphetamine-type substances (ATS), like other synthetically derived compounds, can be produced by a multitude of synthetic pathways using a variety of precursors and reagents, resulting in a large number of possible contaminants (by-products, intermediates and impurities). This review article describes the common contaminants found in preparations of methylamphetamine (MA), 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA), amphetamine (AP), N,N-dimethylamphetamine (DMA) and p-methoxyamphetamine (PMA) synthesised via common synthetic pathways including reductive amination, Leuckart method, Nagai method, Emde method, Birch reduction, “Moscow” method, Wacker process, “Nitrostyrene” method and the Peracid oxidation method.

Contaminants can facilitate identification of the synthetic route, origin of precursors and may suggest information as to the location of manufacture of these illicit drugs. Contaminant profiling can provide vital intelligence for investigations in which linking seizures or identifying the synthetic pathway is essential. This review article presents an accessible resource; a compilation of contaminants resulting from a variety of manufacturing methods used to synthesise the most common ATS. It is important for research in this field to continue as valuable information can be extracted from illicit drug samples, increasing discrimination amongst ATS, and in turn, leading to an increase in evidential value and forensic drug intelligence from forensic drug samples
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-26
Number of pages19
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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