New Synthetic Hallucinogen May Be Deadly

NBOMe mimics effects of LSD and was banned after two men died after ingesting it

Known as “designer drugs,” synthetic drugs meant to mimic the effects of illegal substances are often produced faster than the DEA can ban them — like one recent LSD-like drug that took the lives of two young men.

The drug is 251-NBOMe, known more simply as NBOMe. Now banned by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), this highly potent drug mimics the hallucinogenic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Just because the drug was legally sold at one time doesn’t mean it’s safe — two men reportedly died after using it.

A new study on NBOMe — sometimes called “N-Bombs” — found that the drug produced similar effects to LSD, but it also came with a healthy dose of nasty side effects. Among those: agitation, aggression, seizures, high blood pressure, kidney damage and fever.

And, as in the cases of two young men, NBOMe can be deadly. So how is it that this drug was ever legal?

“The chemical companies are altering the compound ever so slightly to avoid our laws here in the United States,” said John Scherbenske, of the DEA, in a CNN article. “Once they alter that chemical, it is no longer a controlled substance.”

According to CNN, NBOMe and similar synthetic drugs are often manufactured overseas and sold online. These drugs are not regulated.

The recent study on NBOMe — led by Joji Suzuki, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston — looked at the effects of the drug in humans. How or why the drug may be deadly is unclear, but CNN reports that “a dose the size of a few grains of salt can be enough to get high.”

The study by Dr. Suzuki and team was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, which ran from Dec. 4 through 7. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

This study was funded by the Harvard Medical School Eleanore and Miles Shore Fellowship Program for Scholars in Medicine. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.