Make Sudafed from Meth

So, this paper from the Journal of Apocryphal Chemistry should be on the reading list of every journal club. Or at least the journal clubs that should be taking place in the various legislative houses around the country. The authors, O. Hai of the Institute for Theoretical Experiments and I. B. Hakkenshit of the Department of Chemistry at Miskatonic University (as well as the Institute for Theoretical Experiments), have provided simple instructions for synthesizing pseudoephedrine (the active ingredient in Sudafed) from N-methylamphetamine (the active ingredient in crystal meth).

The authors note that government regulations stemming from the war on drugs have made it difficult to obtain pseudoephedrine. However, they found that it is quite easy to obtain N-methylamphetamine, and suggest this simple way of using it to generate the popular, now contraband, nasal decongestant.

Or, in their pitch-perfect description:

In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to obtain psuedoephedine in many states because of its use as a precursor for the illegal drug N-methylamphetamine (also known under various names including crystal meth, meth, ice, etc.)[1,2].  While in the past many stores were able to sell pseudoephedrine, new laws in the United States have restricted sales to pharmacies, with the medicine kept behind the counter.  The pharmacies require signatures and examination of government issued ID in order to purchase pseudoephedrine.  Because the hours of availability of such pharmacies are often limited, it would be of great interest to have a simple synthesis of pseudoephedrine from reagents which can be more readily procured.

A quick search of several neighborhoods of the United States revealed that while pseudoephedrine is difficult to obtain, N-methylamphetamine can be procured at almost any time on short notice and in quantities sufficient for synthesis of useful amounts of the desired material.  Moreover, according to government maintained statistics, N-methylmphetamine is becoming an increasingly attractive starting material for pseudoephedrine, as the availability of N-methylamphetamine has remained high while prices have dropped and purity has increased [2].  We present here a convenient series of transformations using reagents which can be found in most well stocked organic chemistry laboratories to produce psuedoephedrine from N-methylamphetamine.   

While N-methylamphetamine itself is a powerful decongestant, it is less desirable in a medical setting because of its severe side effects and addictive properties [3].  Such side effects may include insomnia, agitation, irritability, dry mouth, sweating, and heart palpitations.  Other side effects may include violent urges or, similarly, the urge to be successful in business or finance.

It’s a shame about those side effects of N-methylamphetamine.

Read the whole thing here.

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