Forensic science international

The analysis of substituted cathinones. Part 2: an investigation into the phenylacetone based isomers of 4-methylmethcathinone and N-ethylcathinone.

PMID 21775082


During the analysis of "seized samples", suspected of containing 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone) and N-ethylcathinone (ethcathinone) additional compounds were observed in the GCMS chromatogram. These compounds were suspected to be the corresponding phenylacetone isomers of mephedrone and ethcathinone respectively. These isomers are referred to as iso-mephedrone and iso-ethcathinone, respectively. The identity of these compounds was verified by synthesising the isomers from known starting materials and comparing them with the compounds found in the seized samples. Analytical data, GCMS, NMR and IR on these compounds are provided. Possible explanations for the presence of these compounds in the seized samples are explored. Contaminated starting material is one suggestion. Rearrangement of the propiophenone based product to the phenylacetone based product is also suggested. The reaction of the α-bromopropiophenone with a primary amine can also lead to the phenylacetone based product. The presence of these isomeric compounds in seized samples could be used to compare different samples and attempt to establish a common origin.