A review of synthetic cathinones emerging in recent years (2019-2022)
The emergence of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) has been being a continuous and evolving problem for more than a decade. Every year, dozens of new, previously unknown drugs appear on the illegal market, posing a significant threat to the health and lives of their users. Synthetic cathinones are one of the most numerous and widespread groups among NPS. The purpose of this work was to identify and summarize available data on newly emerging cathinones in very recent years.
Methods: Various online databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, but also databases of government agencies including those involved in early warning systems, were used in search of reports on the identification of newly emerging synthetic cathinones. In addition, threads on various forums created by users of these drugs were searched for reports on the effects of these new substances.
Results: We have identified 29 synthetic cathinones that have been detected for the first time from early 2019 to mid-2022. We described their structures, known intoxication symptoms, detected concentrations in biological material in poisoning cases, as well as the countries and dates of their first appearance. Due to the lack of studies on the properties of the novel compounds, we compared data on the pharmacological profiles of the better-known synthetic cathinones with available information on the newly emerged ones. Some of these new agents already posed a threat, as the first cases of poisonings, including fatal ones, have been reported.
Conclusions: Most of the newly developed synthetic cathinones can be seen as analogs and replacements for once-popular compounds that have been declining in popularity as a result of legislative efforts. Although it appears that some of the newly emerging cathinones are not widely used, they may become more popular in the future and could become a significant threat to health and life. Therefore, it is important to continue developing early warning systems and identifying new compounds so that their widespread can be prevented.
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