TL neuro

May 31, 2015

A few notes on the CNN article on flakka

Filed under: alpha-PVP, Cathinones, MDPV — mtaffe @ 2:31 pm

A CNN article on flakka (alpha-PVP) is making the rounds.

What is flakka and why is it so dangerous?

I had a few observations on Facebook that I thought I’d repost here.

1) It is hard to control the exact dose of any street preparation. Flakka is not really any different from other drugs in this aspect.

2) “Just a little bit of difference” is a sloppy way to talk about a recreational index (analogous to therapeutic index), i.e., the distance between what gets you high and what kills you. No sign this is true for alpha-PVP…at all. Many drugs differ in potency and if you dose yourself with a mysterious powder expecting it to be Drug X and it is really a much more potent Drug Y, yes, your margin of error is perhaps less. But again, this isn’t specific to Alpha-PVP and for sure doesn’t differentiate it from MDPV (“bathsalts”).

3) “excited delirium” is a made up term used by law enforcement to justify when they kill someone who is acting violent and bizarre and, more importantly, fighting back when they try to physically restrain them. You should be very suspicious when this term is used, in my opinion. The violent behavior referenced here very likely is a consequence of the paranoia and attempts by law enforcement to restrain the individual. High muscle effort leads to elevated heat generation and therefore increases body temperature. It all comes back to the paranoia and the effects of law enforcement intervention. Not the drug.

4) “strength of ten men” nonsense, this time by reference to the cartoon icon The Hulk. Perhaps the drug causes a little bit of insensitivity to pain, that is understandable. And paranoid fighting for one’s life? perhaps. But drugs cannot magically increase muscular strength!

5) It is not at all clear that alpha-PVP has longer-lasting effects than methamphetamine and I would very much doubt this is true. Methamphetamine has a pretty long half-life. In our studies the locomotor stimulant effect of methamphetamine lasts longer than that of alpha-PVP or MDPV (although there are reports from the Gatch lab of 6 hr stimulant effects in mice). There have not been a lot of controlled studies so far, so I would argue that for dang sure this CNN statement on duration of effect of flake is not presently justified.

6) “it could destroy [neurons]”. Sure. but from what we know about the pharmacology, these transporter inhibitors, alpha-PVP and MDPV, are unlikely to represent the harm to dopaminergic and serotonergic neurons that is familiar from repeated methamphetamine or MDMA dosing. Methylone and mephedrone are much more likely to have these problems, by way of example. The Kuhn lab has a recent paper which shows a protective effect of MDPV. From their abstract “The β-ketoamphetamines [cathinones] alone or in all possible two-drug combinations do not result in damage to DA nerve endings but do cause hyperthermia. “.

7) kidneys- sure but one would expect this to be mostly a consequence of medical emergency featuring rhabdomyolysis, typically in cases of very high body temperature. Not by any means a typical effect.

8) Unclear if alpha-PVP is more dangerous than “bathsalts that came before it”. Well that’s a nice trite, unfalsifiable statement but going by the existing evidence (including our study) alpha-PVP and MDPV are going to be very similar in many aspects of the health dangers they might represent.

9) No, sellers cannot work around a DEA Schedule ban by putting “not for human consumption” on the packaging. This is just plain false. and it will not take years to ban flakka. It was placed on the Sched I list in a temporary action in early 2014. This has the same force as a permanent ban and there is every indication that this will be finalized.

C’mon CNN. You can do better than this.

additional comment from forensictoxguy


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