Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Font Size

New Black Market Designer Drugs: Why Now?

2C-E and other illicit new drugs are a danger to users and a threat to psychedelic research, experts warn.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Designer Drugs, Deadly Consequences

Earlier this year, a 19-year-old Minnesota teen died and 10 others were injured after taking large doses of 2C-E -- a drug with far more potent and dangerous effects than the 2C-I they thought they were taking at a spring break party. The 21-year-old who supplied the drug -- police found him unconscious in a snow bank -- has been charged with third-degree murder.

Last May, in Oklahoma, two young people died and six were injured when they took what they thought was 2C-E, but which seems actually to have been the extra-dangerous 3C-bromo-dragonfly.

Most of the new designer drugs have psychedelic properties, although many have mixed features of psychedelics and other drug classes such as stimulants or amphetamines. They are dangerous for users who don't know what they're getting -- or getting into. And it's casting a pall over the renaissance of scientific research into legitimate uses for psychedelic drugs.

Both of these dangers worry Purdue University pharmacologist David E. Nichols, PhD, a leading figure in psychedelic research.

"These newer so-called 'legal' highs, we really don't know anything about them. They have never been tested. People are playing a game of Russian roulette with these things," Nichols tells WebMD. "These are proliferating now. A lot of them came from my lab. We may have done one or two rat studies, but we know nothing about what these compounds do in humans."

Designer Drugs: What's New, What's Not

What's new about the new drugs? In one sense they are not terribly new.

"A lot of these drugs have been around for a while, and many of them are derivatives of existing compounds," Shurtleff tells WebMD. "Take this 2C-E that resulted in the death in Minnesota, for example. That is the third, or fourth, or fifth of a line of compounds coming from ecstasy or MDMA."

One thing that makes this crop of drugs different is how they're sold.

"What is really a different factor here is the Internet -- information, right or wrong or indifferent, gets disseminated at lightning speed and changes the playing field for us," says the DEA's Boggs. "It is a perfect storm of new trends. Before the Internet these things took years to evolve. Now trends accelerate in seconds."

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

child ignored by parents
prescription pain pills
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Teen girl huddled outside house
Man with glass of scotch
overturned shot glass
assortment of medication
Depressed and hurting