Trends in the manufacture of synthetic drugs

The manufacture of synthetic drugs requires the conversion of precursor chemicals into the finished drug. This conversion can be effected in one or more steps and can be mediated by a variety of chemicals and reagents. As a result, the illicit manufacture of amphetaminetype stimulants (ATS) such as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), amphetamine or methamphetamine is highly flexible. This is illustrated by the fact that 14 of the 22 precursor chemicals listed in Table I of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 (“1988 convention”) are precursors for amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and that the total number of precursor chemicals in Table I of the 1988 convention has increased by eight (57 per cent) since 2014, including the 2020 decision to place methyl alpha-phenylacetoacetate (MAPA) under international control.

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