Profiling of Ecstasy Tablets Seized in Iran

Document Type : Research article


1 Department of Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, Shahid Beheshti University MS, Tehran, Iran.

2 Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, Shahid Beheshti University MS, Tehran, Iran. Phytochemistry Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

3 Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

4 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Tehran, Iran.


In this study 50 samples of ecstasy tablets seized in Iran during the period of 2007 through 2008 were examined and their physical characteristics (appearance, marking, scored/not scored, color, weight, diameter, thickness) were determined. In order to determine the chemical characteristics of these tablets, color tests (Marquis test, Simon’s test, Chen’s test and Gallic acid test), Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC), anion test, residual solvents, Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) and Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) were carried out on the tablets. The range of tablets weight was 96–308 mg and the range of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) hydrochloride content in these tablets was 60–180 mg. No good correlation was found between the tablets weight and their MDMA contents. All of the tablets containing MDMA had this compound in hydrochloride form. Ketamine, phenmetrazine and ephedrine (or pseudoephedrine) were found in some of the tablets along with MDMA. No MDMA was found in 20% of the tablets. Some of these tablets contained compounds such as caffeine or tramadol as their active ingredient.