What is the historical background of methamphetamine?

Updated: Aug 15, 2018
  • Author: John R Richards, MD, FAAEM; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Answer

The medical history of amphetamine-like compounds extends back nearly 100 years. [3, 4] A Japanese pharmacologist first synthesized methamphetamine in 1919. A more detailed analysis of the pharmacology of amphetamine derived from the basic phenylethylamine structure was reported in 1930. In the 1930s, amphetamine was introduced in the form of inhalers for rhinitis and asthma treatment. The stimulant, euphoric, and anorectic effects of amphetamine were quickly recognized, leading to its abuse.

In 1937, a report that amphetamine enhanced intellectual performance and wakefulness further contributed to its popularity. Amphetamines were used extensively by Allied and Axis armed forces during World War II and during the recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts to increase wakefulness and attention. [3, 9]

In the late 1950s, initial federal controls were enacted; however, in spite of additional regulation and increased enforcement, amphetamines continued to be used by students, athletes, shift workers, long haul drivers, and for weight loss. [3, 4] The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 stringently regulated the manufacture of amphetamine.


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