Last published: June 06, 2024

What are PMA and PMMA?

Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) and paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) are empathogens with effects similar to MDMA also known as ecstasy.1

Most people who take PMA or PMMA think they are taking MDMA. However, drugs sold as MDMA may not contain any MDMA at all. 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.2

PMA and PMMA have been around since the 1970s and have been associated with a number of deaths over the years worldwide including in Australia.1 In 2012 and 2013 there was a spike in deaths directly attributable to PMA or PMMA in England and Wales.3

What does PMA/PMMA look like?

PMA/PMMA looks like, and is often sold as MDMA (ecstasy). Which means they are often found in tablet or capsule form and will come in different colours and sizes with different pictures, symbols or logos.

Other names

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

Other types of empathogens

How are they used?

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

Effects of PMA and PMMA

Use of any drug can have risks. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

PMA and PMMA affect everyone differently, based on:

  • size, weight and health
  • whether the person is used to taking it
  • whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • the amount taken
  • the strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch)
  • the environment (where the drug is taken)

Effects may include:

  • moderate stimulation
  • seeing colours and shapes
  • heightened senses (sight, hearing and touch)
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth and dehydration
  • increased bodily temperature
  • teeth grinding
  • increased sweating
  • increased heartbeat and blood pressure
  • irregular eye movements
  • muscle spasms
  • decreased appetite
  • nausea and vomiting.4-7

Impact of mood and environment

Drugs that affect a person’s mental state (psychoactive drugs) can also have varied effects depending on a person’s mood (often called the ‘set’) or the environment they are in (the ‘setting’):

  • Set: a person’s state of mind, previous encounters with drugs, and expectations of what’s going to happen. For example, feelings of stress or anxiety before using PMA/PMMA may result in an unpleasant experience.8
  • Setting: the environment in which someone consumes PMA/PMMA – whether it’s known and familiar, who they’re with, if they’re indoors or outdoors, the type of music and light. For example, using PMA/PMMA in a calm, quiet and relaxed environment can lead to, or contribute to, a pleasant experience but being in a noisy, crowded place may result in a negative experience.8


If you take a large amount or have a strong batch, you could overdose.

PMA and PMMA can cause death. Call an ambulance straight away by dialling triple zero (000) if you, or someone else, has any of the following symptoms:

  • extremely high body temperature
  • convulsions and seizures
  • difficulty breathing
  • nausea and vomiting
  • kidney failure
  • severe hyperthermia
  • coma.9

Ambulance officers do not need to involve the police.

Coming down

In the days after using PMA/PMMA, you may experience:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • anxiety, irritability and depression
  • restless sleep and exhaustion
  • loss of appetite
  • paranoia (feeling suspicious and frightened).10

Long term effects

The long-term effects of PMA and PMMA have not yet been established but some research indicates they may have similar long-term effects to ecstasy.11

Tolerance and Dependence

It is possible to build up a tolerance to PMA/PMMA, which means you need to take larger amounts of it to get the same effect. However, there have been no reports of any physical withdrawal symptoms and dependence. There is potential for psychological dependence to develop (desire to keep taking the drug despite the risks).12,13

Mixing PMA and PMMA with other drugs

Mixing PMA/PMMA with other drugs can have unpredictable effects and increase the risk of harm.

  • PMA/PMMA and alcohol: can increase the effects of PMA/PMMA making it more likely to increase negative effects.
  • PMA/PMMA and cannabis can increase anxiety levels and the risk of thought loops and paranoia which can lead to a negative experience.
  • PMA/PMMA and ice/speed/cocaine: can cause fast heart rate, high blood pressure, constriction of the blood vessels and in extreme cases heart failure.7,12

Use of more than one drug or type of drug consumed at the same time is called polydrug use.14

More on Polydrug use

Polydrug use is a term for the use of more than one drug or type of drug at the same time or one after another. Polydrug use can involve both illicit drugs and legal substances, such as alcohol and medications.


Reducing harm

There are ways you can reduce the risk of harm when taking PMA/PMMA:

  • Start with a lower dose first and wait 2 hours before taking any more
  • Avoid taking higher does of PMA/PMMA. This has been known to be lethal.
  • Avoid using if you have an existing heart condition, blood pressure problems, epilepsy or asthma.
  • Avoid mixing with other drugs
  • Drinking too much water while taking PMA/PMMA is dangerous but it is also important to maintain hydration. If dancing, take regular breaks to cool down and drink around 250-500ml of water per hour.15

Getting help

If your use of PMA or PMMA is affecting your health, family, relationships, work, school, financial or other life situations, or you’re concerned about a loved one, you can find help and support.

Call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015 for free and confidential advice, information and counselling about alcohol and other drugs

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

See also, drugs and the law.

  1. Brands B, Sproule B, Marshman J. Drugs and Drug Abuse. Toronto: Addiction Research Foundation; 1998 [22.02.2023].
  2. Department of Health. MDMA adulterated with PMMA: Victoria Government; 2022 [25.10.2023].
  3. Office for National Statistics. Deaths Related to Drug Poisoning in England and Wales: 2012: Office for National Statistics 2013 [25.10.2023].
  4. Matthews A. PMA/PMMA Guide: Substance Create; 2016 [25.10.2023]. Available from:
  5. Caldicott DG, Edwards NA, Kruys A, Kirkbride KP, Sims DN, Byard RW, et al. Dancing with 'Death': P-Methoxyamphetamine Overdose and Its Acute Management. Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology [Internet]. 2003 [14.11.2023]; 41(2):[143-54 pp.].
  6. Refstad S. Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) poisoning; a ‘party drug’ with lethal effects. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica [Internet]. 2003; (10):[1298 p.].
  7. Psychonaut Wiki. PMA 2019 [14.11.2023].
  8. Nutt D. Drugs without the hot air : making sense of legal and illegal drugs. Cambridge: UIT Cambridge Ltd; 2012 [10.10.2023].
  9. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) 2016 25.10.2023].
  10. Black E, Shakeshaft A, Newton N, Teesson M, Farrell M, Rodriguez D. "Party Drugs"/MDMA/Ecstasy - What you need to know. UNSW Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre; 2017 [13.11.2023].
  11. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. para-Methoxymethylamphetamine (PMMA): Critical Review Report: World Heath Ogranization;  [14.11.2023].
  12. Talk to Frank. PMA  [26.10.2023]. Available from:
  13. Drug Facts UK. PMMA/PMA 2017 [cited: 01.09.2022].
  14. Tucker JA, Darke, S, Lappin, J, Farrell, M. The Clinicians Guide to Illicit Drugs and Health: Silverback Publishing; 2019 [26.10.2023].
  15. What is PMA / PMMA? : anna liffey drug project;  [26.10.2023].

Explore empathogens on the Drug Wheel

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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


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