Last published: November 22, 2023

What are PMA and PMMA?

Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) and paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) are empathogens with effects similar to MDMA also known as ecstasy.1 In fact, most people who take PMA or PMMA think they are taking MDMA. However, drugs sold as MDMA 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, Chicken Yellow.

Other types of empathogens

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:

  • moderate stimulation
  • seeing colours and shapes
  • heightened senses (sight, hearing and touch)
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth and dehydration
  • Increased bodily temperature - The most common cause of death from PMA is due to severe hyperthermia.
  • Increased perspiration teeth grinding
  • increased sweating
  • increased heartbeat and blood pressure
  • difficulty breathing
  • irregular eye movements
  • muscle spasms
  • decreased appetite
  • nausea and vomiting (common at any dose)
  • Seizures – (more common with PMMA than with almost any other substance).3-6


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

  • kidney failure
  • extremely high body temperature
  • vomiting
  • convulsions and seizures
  • coma
  • death.7

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 some research indicates they may have similar long-term effects to ecstasy.8

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

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.1 Polydrug use can involve both illicit drugs and legal substances, such as alcohol and medications.


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 & Drug Abuse Third ed. Ontario: Addiction Research Foundation; 1998.
  2. Office for National Statistics. Deaths Related to Drug Poisoning in England and Wales: 2012. Office for National Statistics 2013.
  3. Matthews A. PMA/PMMA Guide: Substance Create; 2016
  4. Caldicott DG, Edwards NA, Kruys A, Kirkbride KP, Sims DN, Byard RW, et al. Dancing with 'Death': P-Methoxyamphetamine Overdose and Its Acute Management. 2003:143.
  5. Refstad S. Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) poisoning; a ‘party drug’ with lethal effects. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica. 2003(10):1298.
  6. Psychonaut Wiki. PMA 2019
  7. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA). In: UNSW Australia, editor. 2016.
  8. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. para-Methoxymethylamphetamine (PMMA): Critical Review Report. World Heath Ogranization.

Explore empathogens on the Drug Wheel

Drug wheel segment - Empathogens segment@2x.png


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