WASHINGTON, D.C. ― The Drug Enforcement Administration Friday announced action against a dangerous designer synthetic cathinone linked to 151 overdose deaths in the United States between 2015 and 2018.
Published in Friday’s Federal Register, DEA’s action puts N-Ethylpentylone into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances refer to those with no legitimate, accepted medical or industrial use in the U.S. This action is based on a finding by the DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon that the placement of N-ethylpentylone in Schedule I is necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety. DEA published its Notice of Intent to take this action in June 2018.
This temporary scheduling action lasts for 24 months, with an additional 12 months if necessary to conduct the necessary research to determine whether it should be controlled permanently. This research will include an eight-factor analysis conducted by DEA and the Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2017, DEA labs nationwide identified nearly 3,000 fentanyl and fentanyl-related compound exhibits, 922 synthetic cannabinoid exhibits, and 369 cathinone exhibits. Of the 369 cathinone exhibits submitted to DEA labs for testing and identification, 201 of those were N-Ethylpentylone.
As a result of this order, the regulatory controls and administrative, civil and criminal sanctions applicable to Schedule I controlled substances will be imposed on persons who handle (manufacture, distribute, reverse distribute, import, export, engage in research, conduct instructional activities or chemical analysis or possess) or propose to handle N-ethylpentylone.
N-Ethylpentylone is a synthetic cathinone of the phenethylamine class and it is similar to cathinone, methamphetamine, MDMA, and other Schedule I and II substances. It is highly likely that N-Ethylpentylone is abused in the same manner and by the same users as these substances. Based on the overdose numbers since 2015, the abuse of N-Ethylpentylone, like that of the abuse of Schedule I synthetic cathinones and stimulant drugs, poses significant adverse health risks.
Adverse effects associated with N-ethylpentylone abuse include insomnia, hyperthermia, vomiting, agitation, disorientation, paranoia, abdominal pain, cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, coma, and death.
DEA has taken this and other regulatory actions many times in previous years in response to the tremendous growth of designer synthetic drugs such as cathinones, cannabinoids, phenethylamines, and fentanyls and fentanyl analogues. These substances are manufactured in overseas rogue labs, and often sold over the Internet using the Dark Web and other anonymous networks to evade law enforcement scrutiny. They are not manufactured with any regard for human life or public safety.