Illegal or legitimate use? Precursor compounds to amphetamine and methamphetamine

by Musshoff F
Institute of Legal Medicine,
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University, Bonn, Germany.
Drug Metab Rev 2000 Feb; 32(1):15-44


The interpretation of methamphetamine and amphetamine positive test results in biological samples is a challenge to clinical and forensic toxicology for several reasons. The effects of pH and dilution of urine samples and the knowledge about legitimate and illicit sources have to be taken into account. Besides a potentially legal prescription of amphetamines, many substances metabolize to methamphetamine or amphetamine in the body: amphetaminil, benzphetamine, clobenzorex, deprenyl, dimethylamphetamine, ethylamphetamine, famprofazone, fencamine, fenethylline, fenproporex, furfenorex, mefenorex, mesocarb, and prenylamine. Especially the knowledge of potential origins of methamphetamine and amphetamine turns out to be very important to prevent a misinterpretation of the surrounding circumstances and to prove illegal drug abuse. In this review, potential precursor compounds are described, including their medical use and major clinical effects and their metabolic profiles, as well as some clues which help to identify the sources.