Florida Conference On
Florida's Statewide Conference on
Focuses on Trends in Trafficking, Sale and Distribution
April 24, 2001
Deadly Variant of Popular Drug Identified in Florida
September 29, 2000
In an attempt to alert the citizens of Florida about a new and
extremely dangerous drug that has been attributed to the deaths of at
least six people in the state, the Office of Drug Control (ODC) and the
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) are issuing this public
Since July, there have been six deaths in Florida associated with an
extremely lethal drug substance called PMA, or paramethoxyamphetamine, and
PMMA, or paramethoxymethamphetamine. A more potent variant of the
illegal substance known as "ecstasy," PMA/PMMA burns out the
central nervous system by raising the user's body temperature to nearly
A 19-year-old Lake County woman died in August after ingesting PMA.
Five hours after her death, her body temperature was recorded at 104
degrees. She may have purchased the drug in the Orlando-area. FDLE's
Orlando Crime Laboratory has received one known case where PMA was
submitted for analysis.
According to the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, PMA has been
used illicitly in Australia since late 1994. It is purportedly sold under
the guise of "ecstasy," the common name for MDMA. PMA appears to
be more toxic than MDMA.
Identified now for the first time in Florida, PMA was associated with
three deaths in the Chicago, Illinois area in May. Of the six deaths
in Florida, two are attributed directly to drug toxicity with these drugs,
and four deaths are attributed to multiple-drug toxicity including these
drugs. The Orange County Medical Examiners office reports body core
temperatures in the five deaths in Orange County to range from 106 degrees
to 108 degrees.
The purpose of this alert is to make the citizens of Florida and the
law enforcement community aware of the sudden appearance of this deadly
illegal substance. Users of "ecstasy" should be aware that, in
the opinion of the forensic toxicologists, no presumptive test kit can
reliably determine the presence of either PMA or PMMA in a pill sold as
"ecstasy." The pills bought by the deceased were
presumed to be "ecstasy" or "ecstasy" laced with
heroin and/or cocaine.
While "ecstasy" alone is deadly, PMA/PMMA appear to be far
more lethal in their toxic effects. We urge all members of law
enforcement, hospitals, poison control centers, and emergency medical
technicians to contact their area forensic laboratory or Medical Examiners
office for information as to the effects and symptoms associated with
these variants of "ecstasy."
We would like to recognize the following forensic officials for their
rapid analysis and alert to the effects of these drugs: Dr. Stephen
Nelson, Interim Chairman of the Florida Medical Examiners Commission; Dr.
Shashi Gore, District Nine Medical Examiner, Orange County; Dr. Frank
Quattrocchi and Ms. Linda Sullivan, Wuesthoff Reference Laboratories; Dr.
Valerie Rao, District Five Medical Examiner, Lake County; Dr. Bruce
Goldberger, University of Florida Center for Forensic Medicine.
For more information, contact: