Letters Designer drugs

Deaths associated with new designer drug 5-IT

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e5625 (Published 24 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5625
  1. L Nitin Seetohul, lecturer in forensic toxicology1,
  2. Peter D Maskell, lecturer in forensic toxicology1,
  3. Giorgia De Paoli, lecturer in forensic toxicology1,
  4. Derrick J Pounder, professor of forensic medicine1
  1. 1Centre for Forensic and Legal Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, UK
  1. l.n.seetohul{at}dundee.ac.uk

5-IT or 5-API is the common name for a newly emerging designer drug.1 It is a positional isomer of the tryptamine drug α-methyltryptamine and has the chemical structure (1H-indol-5-yl)propan-2-amine. Currently not controlled in Europe, it is covered, however, by the federal analogue acts in the USA2 and Australia.3

Very little is known about the acute or chronic effects of 5-IT. An oral dose of 20 milligrams is said to produce long lived stimulant effects, including increased heart rate, anorexia, diuresis, and slight hyperthermia for about 12 hours.4

Recently we identified 5-IT in postmortem blood samples of two young adults. The substance was found in combination with other drugs in one case. In the other, 5-APB/6-APB (a designer drug similar in some respects to the chemical structure of 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA)) was also found. The National Board of Forensic Medicine in Sweden has recently identified the drug in 14 deaths and 5-IT was said to be the direct cause of death in two of these cases.5

5-IT is inexpensive, easily available online as a so called research chemical and therefore has the potential for becoming a replacement for other recently banned designer drugs. The medical community should be aware of both the availability and use of 5-IT within the UK. The drug needs to be banned, but again regulatory control in the UK will be chasing designer drug innovation.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5625


  • Competing interests: None declared.