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A Simple and Convenient Synthesis of Pseudoephedrine From N-Methylamphetamine

A Simple and Convenient Synthesis of Pseudoephedrine From N-Methylamphetamine

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Published by Ben Hardy
A novel and straightforward synthesis of pseudoephidrine from readily available N-methylamphetamine is presented. This practical synthesis is expected to be a disruptive technology replacing the need to find an open pharmacy.
A novel and straightforward synthesis of pseudoephidrine from readily available N-methylamphetamine is presented. This practical synthesis is expected to be a disruptive technology replacing the need to find an open pharmacy.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Ben Hardy on Feb 26, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Communication Journal of Apocryphal Chemistry | Feb. 2012
A Simple and Convenient Synthesis of Pseudoephedrine From
O. Hai,*
and I. B. Hakkenshit
 Received 12th December 2011, Accepted 21st January 2012First published on the web 23rd February 2012
DOI: 1F.1BC9/b00000F00AA novel and straightforward synthesis of pseudoephidrine fromreadily available
-methylamphetamine is presented. Thispractical synthesis is expected to be a disruptive technologyreplacing the need to find an open pharmacy.
Pseudoephedrine, active ingredient of Sudafed
, has long been the most popular nasal decongestant in the United Statesdue to its effectiveness and relatively mild side effects [1]. Inrecent years it has become increasingly difficult to obtain psuedoephedine in many states because of its use as a precursor for the illegal drug
-methylamphetamine (alsoknown under various names including crystal meth, meth, ice,etc.)[1,2]. While in the past many stores were able to sell pseudoephedrine, new laws in the United States haverestricted sales to pharmacies, with the medicine kept behindthe counter. The pharmacies require signatures andexamination of government issued ID in order to purchase pseudoephedrine. Because the hours of availability of such pharmacies are often limited, it would be of great interest tohave a simple synthesis of pseudoephedrine from reagentswhich can be more readily procured.A quick search of several neighborhoods of the UnitedStates revealed that while pseudoephedrine is difficult toobtain,
-methylamphetamine can be procured at almost anytime on short notice and in quantities sufficient for synthesisof useful amounts of the desired material. Moreover,according to government maintained statistics,
-methylmphetamine is becoming an increasingly attractivestarting material for pseudoephedrine, as the availability of 
-methylmphetamine has remained high while prices havedropped and purity has increased [2]. We present here aconvenient series of transformations using reagents which can be found in most well stocked organic chemistry laboratoriesto produce psuedoephedrine from
-methylamphetamine itself is a powerfuldecongestant, it is less desirable in a medical setting becauseof its severe side effects and addictive properties [3]. Suchside effects may include insomnia, agitation, irritability, drymouth, sweating, and heart palpitations. Other side effectsmay include violent urges or, similarly, the urge to besuccessful in business or finance.In our search for sources of 
-methylamphetamine we havefound that, similar to research grade chemicals purchasedfrom the major chemical supply houses, the purity of thereagent varies greatly between suppliers and even between batches despite the above cited overall increase in purity.Unfortunately, and again similar to suppliers of finechemicals, relative cost is not strongly correlated to samplequality. We therefore found it necessary to purify the startingmaterial before use. This may be accomplished by precipitating the amphetamine from isopropanol with HClfollowed by deprotonation with sodium hydroxide andextraction into chloroform, which after removal of the solventin vacuo yields
. In the majority of the samples obtained for this study,
was greater than 95%enantiomerically pure, with the S enantiomer being the major isomer present. This is consistent with reduction of commercially available ephedrine or pseudoephidrine as theorigin of the casually procured material used in this study.
Scheme 1
Synthesis of pseudoephedrine from
The synthetic procedure is shown in scheme 1. Thechromium tricarbonyl coordination compound
was formedin 96% yield by heating the purified starting material andchromium hexacarbonyl in dibutyl ether solution according tothe procedure described by Blagg and Davies [4]. While inthe cited work a single equivalent of 
BuLi was used todeprotonate a similar chromium complex, in the case of 
twoequivalents of 
BuLi were required due to the presence of therelatively acidic amine proton. After successful formation of the dianion
, which was not isolated but taken onimmediately in the same reaction vessel, a single hydroxygroup was introduced at the alpha position by addition of oneequivalent of oxodiperoxymolybdenum(pyridine)(HMPA),commonly known as MoOPH. The series of transformations producing
went in 87% yield overall. Chromium
 J. Apoc. Chem.
, 2012,
, 213-214 | 213

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