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Last updated : August 23, 2017

What are PMA and PMMA?

Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) and paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) are stimulants with hallucinogenic effects similar to MDMA, which is the main ingredient in ecstasy.1 In fact most people who take PMA or PMMA think they are taking ecstasy. However, drugs sold as ecstasy may not contain any MDMA. They can be a mix of amphetamines, PMA, PMMA, ketamine, NBOMe, methylone or other substances.

This is potentially harmful as PMA and PMMA have more toxic effects (and are less euphoric) than MDMA. It also takes longer to feel these effects, so people may take another pill in the mistaken belief that the first has not worked, sometimes resulting in overdose. PMA and PMMA have been around since the 1970s1 and have been associated with a number of deaths over the years worldwide including in Australia. In 2012 and 2013 there was a spike in deaths directly attributable to PMA or PMMA in England and Wales.2

How are they used?

PMA and PMMA are usually swallowed and can be snorted or injected.

Slang names

Death, Dr Death, Pink Ecstasy, Red Mitsubishi, Killer, Chicken Powder and Chicken Yellow

Effects of PMA and PMMA

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any kind type of drug.

PMA and PMMA affect everyone differently, but effects may include:

  • Feeling alert and excited
  • Seeing colours and shapes
  • Heightened senses (sight, hearing and touch)3
  • Dry mouth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Increased sweating
  • Increased heart beat and blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular eye movements
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea4

Overdose

If you take a large amount or have a strong batch, you could overdose. If you have any of the symptoms below, call an ambulance straight away by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers don’t need to involve the police.

  • Kidney failure
  • Extremely high body temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Coma
  • Death4

High doses of PMA or PMMA are potentially lethal.

Long term effects

The long-term effects of PMA and PMMA have not yet been established but health professionals believe they may have similar long-term effects to ecstasy.5

Using PMA or PMMA with other drugs

Taking PMA or PMMA with other drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, cannabis and some prescription medications such as anti-depressants (SSRIs and MAOIs) can be potentially fatal.4

Getting help

If your use of PMA and PMMA are affecting your health, family, relationships, work, school, financial or other life situations, you can find help and support.

PMA and the law

Federal and state laws provide penalties for possessing, using, making or selling PMA or PMMA, or driving under their influence.

References

1. Brands, B. Sproule, B. & Marshman, J. (Eds.). (1998). Drugs & drug abuse (3rd ed.). Ontario: Addiction Research Foundation.

2. Office for National Statistics. (2013). Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales, 2012.

3. Matthews, A. (2011). PMA/PMMA information and advice [fact sheet] (substance.org.uk).

4. Drug Enforcement Administration Intelligence Division. (2000). The hallucinogen PMA: Dancing with death. (Drug Alert). Virginia: Department of Justice.

5. Know The Score. (n.d.). PMA.

 


Effects

difficulty breathing, dry mouth, excitability, feeling alert, heightened senses, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, increased sweating, irregular eye movements, muscle spasms, nausea, teeth grinding.

AKA

chicken powder, chicken yellow, death, Dr Death, killer, pink ecstasy, red mitsubishi.