Information is beginning to emerge showing that a very unstable situation has been created following the banning of mephedrone and the impending ban on naphyrone. Three studies have been reported in greater or lesser detail showing the variability of the mephedrone-related drugs now available to users.
Dr John Lough and his team at the University of Sunderland analysed six samples of mephedrone obtained over the internet (http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=81203&CultureCode=en) . They found that the drug samples were fairly pure suggesting that they had been made in an organic chemistry lab but three variants of particle size and crystalline form were identified. The team speculate that differences in the physical state of the drug may lead to differences in availability once ingested. Users could, therefore, experience different doses.
In a second report, Dr John Ramsay from St Georges Hospital analysed two samples of drugs sold as mephedrone substitutes (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10682487). They were labelled as MDAI (5,6-methylenedioxy-2-aminoindane) and NRG-1 (a name used by internet suppliers for naphyrone). Neither sample contained the compound expected and Dr Ramsay reported the presence of a chemical not previously seen.
A third report from Brandt and colleagues in the BMJ (http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/341/jul06_1/c3564) described analyses of samples of drugs available over the internet following the mephedrone ban. Analysis of ten samples labelled NRG-1 revealed only one containing naphyrone, the others containing various illegal cathinones including mephedrone.
These reports underline the uncertainty of the supply of drugs from internet suppliers. Users will often not be consuming materials they expected. They may also be in possession of illegal materials whereas they purchased what they thought was a legal substance.
Internet supply of drugs has changed drug availability forever, but simply banning drugs fails to provide a solution.