Alexander Shulgin chemist who discovered Ecstasy drug dies Oakland, US

Alexander Shulgin, discoverer of drug Ecstasy dies at 88

5:32 AM, 9th June 2014
Alexander Shulgin chemist discoverer of drug Ecstasy
© Washington Post News.

NEW YORK, US: Alexander Shulgin, a chemist who specialized in the creation of and experimentation with mind-altering substances, and who introduced the controversial drug popularly known as Ecstasy for potential therapeutic use, dies at his residence in Lafayette, California, east of Oakland, US. He was 88.

His work resulted in patents - his drugs have been used in treating hypertension, reducing nicotine cravings and addressing senility, among other things - but it has also been appropriated by recreational users, sometimes to dangerous effect. In 1967, one of his compounds, popularly known as STP, whose effects include hallucinations and a sense that time has slowed down, was deployed in high doses by San Francisco thrill seekers, sending dozens, if not hundreds, to emergency rooms with fears that they would never return to normal.

Shulgin is probably best known for his resynthesis of the drug MDMA, which had first been patented in 1914 by the German drug manufacturer Merck and later abandoned because no appropriate use of it had emerged.

Some therapists indeed found that it encouraged rapid improvement in some patients, but after MDMA migrated to recreational use - and became known as Ecstasy, or X - the DEA classified it as a Schedule I drug. It was banned in the mid-1980s, at a time when Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign against drug use was at its peak. In recent years research on its potential uses (for example, in the treatment of traumatized war veterans) has re-emerged.

Shulgin was the author of five books that documented his work, including two, self-published in the 1990s, that focus on particular families of chemical compounds – “PiHKAL,” short for “phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved,” and “TiHKAL” (Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved). Both describe his work in detail and his experiences in sampling it.

 

© The New York Times News Service

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