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Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2013 Jan;51(1):54-7. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2012.758855. Epub 2013 Jan 9.

Acute neurotoxicity associated with recreational use of methylmethaqualone confirmed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.

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Swiss Toxicological Information Centre, Associated Institute of the University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Methylmethaqualone is a sedative designer drug created by adding a methyl group to the 3-phenyl ring of methaqualone, and is at present not subject to restrictive regulation in many countries. To our knowledge, no case of methylmethaqualone abuse has been published to date in the scientific literature, and the only sources of information are users' reports on Web discussion forums and data from preclinical animal studies. We report a case of oral methylmethaqualone abuse confirmed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry in a 24-year-old previously healthy Caucasian male. Observed symptoms and signs such as central nervous system depression alternating with excitation, psychomotor agitation, muscle hyperactivity, and tachycardia were compatible with methaqualone-induced adverse effects. Except for the mild tachycardia (115 beats/min), other vital signs were normal: blood pressure 134/89 mmHg, body temperature 36.2°C (97.16°F), and peripheral oxygen saturation 99% while breathing room air. The ECG showed no prolongation of the QT interval and the QRS duration was normal. Laboratory analysis revealed a slight increase in creatine kinase (368 U/L) and alanine aminotransferase (90 U/L) serum concentrations. Blood alcohol concentration was 0.32 g/L. Methylmethaqualone was identified in a serum sample collected on admission which was analyzed by a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry toxicological screening method using turbulent flow online extraction. After a few days the patient ingested the same amount of substance with identical symptoms. Based on the chemical structure and animal data, and according to this case report and users' Web reports, methylmethaqualone appears to have a similar acute toxicity profile to methaqualone, with marked psychomotor stimulation. Symptoms of acute toxicity can be expected to resolve with supportive care.

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