Could Piperazines Be the Next Designer Drug of Choice?

A technical report, Analytical and Synthetic Studies on Designer Drugs of the Piperazine Class, is not available from the NIJ. (This report is the result of an NIJ-funded project but was not published by the U.S. Department of Justice).

Analytical and Synthetic Studies on Designer Drugs of the Piperazine Class (pdf, 539 pages)

C. Randall Clark and Jack DeRuiter

A number of piperazine-containing compounds have appeared on the illicit drug market in recent years including N-benzylpiperazine (BZP), 1-(3-trifluoromethylphenyl)-piperazine (3-TFMPP), 1-(3-chlorophenyl)-piperazine (mCPP), 1-(3,4-methylenedioxybenzyl)-piperazine (3,4- MDBP) and 1-(4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxybenzyl)-piperazine (BrDMBP). A mixture of BZP and other piperazine derivatives have been described as yielding pharmacological effects similar to that of MDMA (Ecstasy), although these effects require higher doses than MDMA.

While some of these piperazines are still commercially available, others are designer analogues that can be synthesized in clandestine labs. Exploration and designer development in the piperazine drugs using models based on substituted amphetamines and related phenethylamines is likely to continue for many years.

Current clandestine recipes/procedures used for amphetamine-type molecules can be applied directly for piperazine synthesis. Thus, clandestine labs would not need to learn any new synthetic techniques. Restricting the availability of piperazine would require placing dozens of substances from commercial sources around the globe under federal control. Therefore, legal control of the key precursor substance will not prevent the further clandestine/designer exploration of this group of compounds.

The goal of this project was a comprehensive analytical study of those benzylpiperazines, phenylpiperazines, benzoylpiperazines and designer phenethylpiperazines of significance in forensic drug chemistry. The availability of all the necessary compounds to establish and validate the structure-retention, structure-fragmentation and other structure-property analytical experiments was the first step in this research. In this study, the authors synthesized and evaluated more than 100 compounds belonging to the four series.

Click here to download a PDF of the report.

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