The Drug Report

Facts about what can go wrong when people use drugs

  • The Best Drug Info Ever?

    A big part of my inspiration for The Drug Report was Beth Pearce's amazing film, VOICE OF THE VICTIMS: TRUE STORIES OF ECSTASY AND KETAMINE. The film simply lets the victims of drug tragedies tell their stories. It's real life, it's undeniable, and it's incredibly powerful. I'm sure Beth has saved many, many lives, and it is my hope that this blog will do so as well. To learn more about her film, go to Voice Of The Victims.


    A friend of mine likes to say, "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."

    When it comes to drugs, there are lots of opinions out there: Some think drugs are safe and fun, some think they're dangerous and frightening, and many think everything in between.

    But facts are facts, and when someone dies from drugs, or someone is murdered by a person who is on drugs, or is raped by someone who has given them drugs, that's just a fact. Drug users who actively promote drug use rail against these facts, and I expect they'll be commenting regularly on The Drug Report. But they can't change the facts.

Ecstasy’s Birth: Not an Appetite Suppressant

Posted by Childress on August 19, 2006

Popular Web-mythology about Ecstasy is that its was created by the drug giant Merck in 1912 as an appetite suppressant that might make the German Army more efficient when battling hunger and Germany’s enemies, but the drug was set aside when experiments on lab animals revealed bizarre reactions.

The story is bogus, according to Merck, which spent a couple years poring over dusty old records to see if the company really was involved in so strange a program. According to The Guardian (UK), Ecstasy had a much more noble beginning:

The company did develop the drug in 1912, but the appetite suppressant story is an urban myth, passed on from source to source through “uncritical copy-paste procedures”. Instead, documents from the time show that ecstasy emerged during the company’s efforts to develop a potentially life-saving medicine that would help blood to clot.

The best available blood clot medicine at the time, hydrastinin, was patented by Merck’s local rival Bayer. Merck chemists believed that a similar compound called methylhydrastinin would be equally effective and set about trying to make it from scratch in a way not covered by the Bayer patent. Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, was first produced during these experiments, but attracted little attention.

Merck’s recent search found just a passing reference to the drug: in a patent the company filed in 1912 to protect its new blood clot agent, which had been tested on patients in a Berlin hospital. Patent 274350 did not refer to MDMA by name, but described its properties among a list of other new intermediates: “colourless oil, boiling point 155C at 20mm pressure, its salt forms white crystals”.

Tellingly, there were no references to any experiments to test the biological effects of ecstasy, then known as methylsafrylamin. As the official report of Merck’s historical detectives puts it: “In clear contrast to what is usually claimed by the ‘ecstasy’ literature, MDMA was neither studied in animals nor humans at Merck around 1912.”

There it is; presented for your knowledge and edification.


2 Responses to “Ecstasy’s Birth: Not an Appetite Suppressant”

  1. Dodgy said

    I’ve never heard this myth before.

  2. Childress said

    I have.

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