'Legal highs' increase four-fold in Britain

May 21, 2013 at 6:04 PM   |   Comments

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LONDON, May 21 (UPI) -- The number of people dying from banned synthetic drugs such as meow meow quadrupled in the past five years, British health officials say.

The recreational drugs, popular on the club scene, include GHB, more commonly referred to as a "date rape" drug, cathinones such as meow meow and other stimulants, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Cathinone is structurally related to methcathinone, in much the same way as amphetamine is related to methamphetamine. Cathinone differs from amphetamine by possessing a ketone oxygen atom on the beta position of the side chain. Because its chemical formula is one molecule different to drugs, drug dealers claim is not a controlled substance.

A total of 77 deaths over the past five years have been linked to GHB, while 21 deaths have been linked to the stimulant BZP. Cathinones such meow meow, which has been reclassified as a Class B drug in Britain caused 12 deaths in the past two years, the Telegraph said.

Professor Les Iverson, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, warned earlier in May the law is struggling to keep up with drug dealers, who have created 200 potentially dangerous synthetic drugs which have yet to be banned.

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