August 19, 2019
I can tell you that ecstasy has its drawbacks.
What molecule am I?
Image of MDMA 3D Image of MDMA

MDMA (short for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a widely used and abused psychoactive drug. Known on the street as “ecstasy”, it is illegal in most countries. It has no established medical uses; but it is available to qualified researchers. As shown in the hazard information table, it is toxic in numerous ways.

MDMA is a water-insoluble viscous oil and therefore difficult to handle. Because of this, it is usually prepared as an aqueous solution of its hydrochloride salt. It is a chiral molecule normally produced as the racemate. The (R)-enantiomer (shown) remains in the body, especially in blood plasma, significantly longer than its (S) counterpart.

A cautionary tale about MDMA occurred in 2013, when Tatsunori Iwamura, a pharmacy professor at Matsuyama University (Japan) allegedly instructed 11 of his students to make the drug. Iwamura has admitted to the act, which was not revealed until April of this year. At this time, the situation is still under investigation.

MDMA hazard information

GHS classification*: flammable liquids, category 2
H225—Highly flammable liquid and vaporChemical Safety Warning
GHS classification: acute toxicity, oral, category 3
H301—Toxic if swallowedChemical Safety Warning
GHS classification: acute toxicity, dermal, category 3
H311—Toxic in contact with skinChemical Safety Warning
GHS classification: acute toxicity, inhalation, category 3
H331—Toxic if inhaledChemical Safety Warning
GHS classification: specific target organ toxicity, single exposure, category 1
H370—Causes damage to organsChemical Safety Warning

*Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. Explanation of pictograms.

MDMA fast facts

CAS Reg. No.42542-10-9
Empirical formulaC11H15NO2
Molar mass193.25 g/mol
AppearanceColorless oil
Boiling point105 ºC (0.4 torr)
Water solubilityInsoluble

MOTW update:
May 31, 2021

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a widely abused psychoactive drug known on the street as “ecstasy”. MDMA, however, may have a beneficial use. Jennifer M. Mitchell at the University of California, San Francisco and colleagues there and at several other institutions worldwide report that the drug is efficacious in patients with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Their randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study was conducted with 90 participants at 15 sites in three countries.

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