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Acad Emerg Med. 2004 Feb;11(2):208-10.

Shedding new light on the "safe" club drug: methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy)-related fatalities.

Author information

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA. mmpatel@emory.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To report the pathology, toxicology, cause, and manner of death in 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-associated fatalities in the United States. Although use trends are increasing, data regarding the hazards of MDMA are limited.

METHODS:

The authors obtained fatality reports from participating medical examiners in the United States. Cases were identified as "drug-unrelated" when MDMA did not directly cause death (e.g., motor vehicle collision); deaths from drug toxicity were judged "drug-related."

RESULTS:

Thirty-eight (8%) of the surveyed medical examiners reported 102 deaths associated with MDMA use from 1999 to 2001. Ten percent of fatalities occurred in 1999 and 90% thereafter, representing a 400% relative increase. Victims tended to be young (mean age = 25), white (n = 87 [85%]), male (n = 70 [69%]), and otherwise healthy. Seventy-one (70%) deaths were drug-related (DR) and 31 (30%) were drug-unrelated (DU). Twenty-four (35%) DR deaths had a mean delay of 6.7 hours (95% CI = 5.1 to 8.2) in activating emergency medical services. Fifty-five DR cases (81%) were found in asystole and pronounced dead at the scene.

CONCLUSIONS:

The MDMA-associated fatal events typically occur in young, otherwise healthy individuals. MDMA's impact on the public health and safety of young adults and teenagers needs further assessment.

PMID:
14759969
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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