Mephedrone (“Meow Meow”), The New Designer Drug of Abuse: Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynimics and Clinical and Forensic Issues

Emanuel Ribeiro, Teresa Magalhães, Ricardo Jorge Dinis-Oliveira


Mephedrone is a semisynthetic derivative of cathinone used as a drug of abuse. Similar to amphetamine, both in chemical structure and associated symptoms, has gained popularity since 2007 and it is currently the sixth most popular drug among United Kingdom users. It can be easily purchased on the Internet or smart shops and it is more advantageous than ecstasy, given its higher purity and lower price. Mephedrone is advertised as a fertilizer for plants or bath salts, and yet it has never been proved as such. This article aims to review the state-of-the-art literature of mephedrone, particularly its chemical structure, forms of presentation, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, acute intoxications, diagnosis and intoxications therapy. Mephedrone is mainly sought for the following symptoms: euphoria, social disinhibition, empathy, and increased libido. However, its use is associated with several adverse effects on cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, psychiatric and genitourinary systems, among others. There are also reported cases of consumers who have developed tolerance and dependence after a regular consumption of mephedrone. Several deaths in the United Kingdom have been confirmed as being directly related to the consumption of mephedrone. Currently this drug is legally controlled in many countries, but little is known about its pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Most comes only from users and health professional’s reports and internet surveys. Recently, the Portuguese Law 13/2012, 26 of march, included mephedrone in the list of controlled substances, and therefore it is important to better understand this xenobiotic.

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