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Can J Neurol Sci. 1986 Nov;13(4):337-9.

Intravenous abuse of propylhexedrine (Benzedrex) and the risk of brainstem dysfunction in young adults.


In 1949, amphetamine sulfate was replaced by propylhexedrine in the nasal decongestant agent Benzedrex because of psychosis, sudden death, and widespread abuse. Propylhexedrine is not without risks, and reported cases of psychosis, myocardial infarction, pulmonary vascular disease and pulmonary hypertension, and sudden death are well documented in the medical literature. We are reporting 2 cases of definite brainstem dysfunction and 5 cases of transient diplopia secondary to IV abuse of Benzedrex. This widely abused drug is prepared by heating Benzedrex and hydrochloric acid, and the resulting crystals are dissolved in water for injection. This agent is called "stove-top speed". All 7 patients had transient diplopia, within seconds after injection. One patient had evidence of a right-internuclear ophthalmoplegia, and another had a depressed right gag reflex and paralysis of the right half of the tongue. The deficits in these two patients, persisted for many months. In young adults with history of drug abuse, the IV use of Benzedrex should be considered in the differential diagnosis of transient or permanent focal brainstem deficits.

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