Don't cook Sudafed in yo baby momma's house
February 28, 2012 4:37 AM   Subscribe

In [the USA], buying a good over-the-counter nasal decongestant requires picking a card from an empty spot on the shelf, taking it to the pharmacist, handing over your driver's license, and getting it from behind the counter. Only the larger drug stores bother. Meth, on the other hand, is apparently easier to come by. So here (PDF), from the the wonderfully named Journal of Apocryphal Chemistry, is a paper on how to make Sudafed® from Meth.
posted by TheNewWazoo (58 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Text shamelessly stolen from Kee Hinckley's G+ post
posted by TheNewWazoo at 4:40 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


It won't be blue.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:42 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Didn't Colbert do this bit?
posted by humanfont at 4:48 AM on February 28, 2012


I'll be damned. So he did.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 4:56 AM on February 28, 2012


Sudafed makes me crazy, No, really, pretty much all stimulants stronger than caffeine beat me like a gong. Let me tell you, I cried and cried when I realized that my dreams of being a hardcore meth abuser were never to be.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:23 AM on February 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


Not only do I have to present a driver's license to get my Allegra D now, I have to do so every 10 days - since they won't sell you more than that. And it comes in blister packs so impregnable that I keep a folding knife on my nightstand for the sole purpose of getting the fucking pill out. Which is extra fun when I'm sneezing so constantly and so hard that I'm perspiring.

The over-the-counter-ization of Allegra D is the worst thing that has ever happened to me - pharmacologically speaking.
posted by Trurl at 5:29 AM on February 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


I sympathize with people who need it amidst this silly shit, but yeah, Sudafed makes me ride the snake without doing anything to my nasal passage situation. I'm more of a little n, little u, BIG FUCKING Q guy.
posted by selfnoise at 5:30 AM on February 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Colbert handwaved over the details. This paper is a pitch-perfect parody of a synthesis paper as found in contemporary journals, including less-obvious details like the economic absurdity and unoriginality of the synthesis.

Plus there are some delicious jabs at the uneven quality and outrageous pricing of chemicals from major suppliers.

Plus, its funny!
posted by Glomar response at 5:38 AM on February 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


Step 1: Smuggle tractor trailer full of Sudafed from Mexico.
Step 2: Sell to allergy sufferers no questions asked.
Step 3: Profit.
posted by dortmunder at 5:41 AM on February 28, 2012 [13 favorites]


Meanwhile, Afrin, which is actually addictive when used as purely for decongestant purposes, is available on store shelves.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:41 AM on February 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is an awesome article, written in the style of a journal like Chemical Communications (where the author got the article template from). The stereochemistry, yield descriptions and general nowse of the article indicate that this is someone who knows their chemistry.

Don't try this at home kids!

FYI: this is a bone-dry satire, the chemistry involved is elaborate & requires careful setup.

Some of the reagents are especially toxic (the molebdynum & chromium compounds), some are pyrophoric (the BuLi) - bursting into flames upon contact w/air, and some form organic peroxides on standing (Bu2O), thus leading to you blowing your arm off when you open the old can (what's that crust around the solvent lid.....ohhh...run away!)

The satire is subtle:viz

......was also suggested to one of us that a “green chemistry” approach, that is, elimination of toxic and environmentally detrimental solvents and reagents, should be a high priority [5]


Reference [5] is a personal communication, implying that one of the 'reviewers' suggested that maybe you dont want to use these nasty specialist chemicals in a synthesis made for personal consumption. It's also a riff on the "why don't you do X" type of reviewing comment which is utterly at odds with the point of the paper - usually made by a reviewer who wants to delay the paper, dislikes it somehow, or maybe just likes the look of their own (not-so-) incisive commentary on other's work.

On preview: Glomar is right!
posted by lalochezia at 5:46 AM on February 28, 2012 [11 favorites]


Here in Oklahoma, they are trying to make it prescription only. Note to proponents of such a bill: Not a good idea to do this during cold and flu season.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:58 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


This paper is a pitch-perfect parody of a synthesis paper as found in contemporary journals
Do contemporary chemistry journals allow such persistent misspellings as "pseudoephidrine"?
posted by knile at 6:14 AM on February 28, 2012


I actually had a pharmacist give me a nasty look and question why I needed to buy decongestants twice in two months (um, I need one almost every day in the fall/spring). But then she sold it to me anyway. Is that law actually doing anything? I haven't noticed meth disappearing from the crime stats.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:25 AM on February 28, 2012


Sudafed is the only thing that helps me through a cold and that Pseudo-sudafed that you can buy without authentication does nothing.
posted by octothorpe at 6:25 AM on February 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is definitely one of those posts that is awesome in and of itself and not by necessarily reading through the entirety of the link.

The manner in which needful drugs are strictly controlled while other harmful drugs are let loose on the system (I'm thinking of the ease in which I obtained a bottle of Everclear which is arguably more harmful in terms of potential damage to myself and others if I drank the entirety of a bottle and then felt like going someplace) is pretty ridiculous.

I'm reminded of the ADHD med shortage at the end of 2011 and I wonder what steps would be necessary to transform meth into a extended release formula.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:34 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think stuff like this is meant to piss people off and blame meth rather than actually trying to stop people from creating or doing meth.
posted by hellslinger at 6:35 AM on February 28, 2012


This reminds me of all the erowid/pihkal recipes, for stuff like LSD, too, it's just missing the incredibly important pre-cursor that's only available from some windy mountain pass in Timbuktu.
posted by empath at 6:37 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


N-methylamphetamine itself is a powerful decongestant, it is less desirable in a medical setting because of its severe side effects and addictive properties. ... Other side effects
may include violent urges or, similarly, the urge to be successful in business or finance


Good stuff, though I think they should have used "Walt Heisenberg" as a nom de plume rather than "O. Hai and I. B. Hakkenshit."
posted by exogenous at 6:41 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I actually had a pharmacist give me a nasty look and question why I needed to buy decongestants twice in two months

I forgot to mention that my supermarket pharmacy also taped up a "Faces of Meth" poster behind the counter.

I'm sure many an addict will be deterred from seeking their fix by that reminder of the consequences to their appearance.
posted by Trurl at 6:42 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Knile wrote:
Do contemporary chemistry journals allow such persistent misspellings as "pseudoephidrine"?

Google Scholar says "yes!"



Really I have seen all kinds of spelling or naming mistakes in technical papers, but I do hope that the CAS numbers are right, most of the time.
posted by Glomar response at 6:48 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here in Oklahoma, they are trying to make it prescription only. Note to proponents of such a bill: Not a good idea to do this during cold and flu season.

Actually, if it were prescription only, I could have my allergist prescribe me a month's worth and not have to go back to the pharmacy every damn week.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:01 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Wanna cook?" [sneezes, blows nose]
posted by Brodiggitty at 7:02 AM on February 28, 2012


To go to the trouble to write that fake paper, and fail to sneak in a single "Breaking Bad" reference...it truly breaks my heart.

Really, would have it killed them to quote White W. and Pinkman J. "Safety issues in large-scale N-methylamphetamine production", J Ill Chem, Vol. 1 No. 6, Jan 2008?
posted by Skeptic at 7:16 AM on February 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


If only they'd tell me how to make Adderall.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:17 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, Afrin, which is actually addictive when used as purely for decongestant purposes, is available on store shelves.

The problem with oxymetazoline is not addiction but rather dependency (for those who don't know, using it for several days followed by sudden cessation can lead to severe rebound congestion, which can lead to using the stuff interminably). It's not psychoactive at all (a key aspect of addiction), and you'd never start using it unless you were congested in the first place. That's very different from meth.
posted by jedicus at 7:18 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't try this at home kids!

So it's a pretty dangerous setup, but does the chemistry appear accurate?
posted by jedicus at 7:20 AM on February 28, 2012


I can't tell which I hate more - getting treated like a criminal every time I need a legal medicine, , the drug dealers... er, pharmaceutical companies that put out fake look-a-like pills that waste your money and do nothing, or the lawmakers who peddle "feel-good" legislation, but are afraid to solve the real problem (War on Some Drugs).
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:23 AM on February 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wonder what steps would be necessary to transform meth into a extended release formula.

Methamphetamine already has a pretty long half-life so an extended-release formula wouldn't be very useful. One of the advantages of Desoxyn is less frequent dosing.

iIf only they'd tell me how to make Adderall.

I'm quite sure you can find a number of different amphetamine synthesis procedures online.
posted by nTeleKy at 7:23 AM on February 28, 2012


Knile wrote:
Do contemporary chemistry journals allow such persistent misspellings as "pseudoephidrine"?

Hell Chem Comm has published a paper that used some unfortunate abbreviations for copper functionalised nanotubes (CuNT) and also Bismuth ones as well (BiNT) so something like a minor misspelling isn't that big a deal.
posted by koolkat at 7:30 AM on February 28, 2012


Some straight like you, giant stick up his ass, age what - 60? He's just gonna break bad?

posted by Fizz at 7:51 AM on February 28, 2012


Unfortunately, and again similar to suppliers of fine chemicals, relative cost is not strongly correlated to sample quality.

You have to buy in bulk. The smaller the amount, the more likely it's been stepped on, ahem, I mean diluted by the addition of inert agents.
posted by three blind mice at 8:06 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Step 1: Smuggle tractor trailer full of Sudafed from Mexico.
Step 2: Sell to allergy sufferers no questions asked.
Step 3: Profit."


dortmunder, you joke, but I grew up on the border of Mexico, and there is more truth to this than you realize.

Damn near everyone I knew - anglo or hispanic - got at least some of their meds in Mexico, had dental work done, even surgery. Since 9/11, crossing the border isn't as trivial as it used to be, so the practice may have declined. Nevertheless, a good friend of mine just moved back home after her divorce; without medical insurance, her father gets her medicine in Mexico for her at about fifteen to twenty percent of the cost in the U.S. She literally would have to go without otherwise.
posted by Xoebe at 8:09 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I used to spend 6 months of the year with my head full of sinus cement...then I started saline spray rinsing...OMG...it totally fixes the problem, and doesn't just mask the symptoms like drugs. And the compressed spray bottles you can get at your local drug store are great...no scary nettie pot brain eating amoebas, gentle mist...can't recommend it enough.
posted by Chekhovian at 8:19 AM on February 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


, the chemistry involved is elaborate & requires careful setup.

So it is the Anarchist Cookbook for meth then.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:24 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never seen a pharmacy do the pick a card off the shelf thing. The feckless pharmacies around me just have them stocked behind the pharmacy counter and if you want to know anything about them you have to ask the pharm tech about them one by one, wasting everyone's damn time.

Screw you, Feinstein and Talent.
posted by Zed at 8:31 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do contemporary chemistry journals allow such persistent misspellings as "pseudoephidrine"?

It's happened before in more prestigious journals.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:50 AM on February 28, 2012


I've never seen a pharmacy do the pick a card off the shelf thing. The feckless pharmacies around me just have them stocked behind the pharmacy counter and if you want to know anything about them you have to ask the pharm tech about them one by one, wasting everyone's damn time.

Where I am, even if you know what you want, the process goes like this:

CUSTOMER: Yeah, can I get one pack of the store brand 12 hour Sudafed
EMPLOYEE: *Points to random pack* This one?
CUSTOMER: No, the store brand 12 hour one, in the blue pack.
EMPLOYEE: *Points to a yellow pack* This one?
CUSTOMER: No, to the left
EMPLOYEE: *moves finger slowly to the right* This one?

I imagine buying cigarettes would be like this if gas stations only employed the blind and insane.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:51 AM on February 28, 2012 [14 favorites]


It's always nice to have a fan club.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:58 AM on February 28, 2012 [15 favorites]


It's happened before in more prestigious journals.

"Reactions of sulfenes with ketene acetals and ketene animals." Huh?
posted by grouse at 9:23 AM on February 28, 2012


I actually had a pharmacist give me a nasty look and question why I needed to buy decongestants twice in two months.

Not that I don't mind not having sinus and/or allergy issues, but I've always considered it to be somewhat unjust that I never have this sort of experience. As a big hairy guy who just loves slow roasting people's brains, I would have tons of fun saying somethhing like, "Look, If I wanted meth, rather than paying your bloated price for starting reagents, I'd go down to Autozone and get some toluene, then I'd..." and rattle off a detailed synthesis including a chiral chromatography step for isomer separation. "Now, if you would kindly get me some pseudoephed, I'll stop dribbling snot all over your counter.

I did a truncated version of this once with somebody who was being a little weird about my ADD meds and it was like "Friedel–Crafts Alkylation" was a secret handshake that no one making illegal drugs would ever know, despite the fact that every university graduate program ever has a story about the guy who dropped out some time in the past, and then while cleaning out their hood, someone figured out they were dealing with a would be Owsley Stanley.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:26 AM on February 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


It should be ketene aminals but someone let spell check get the better of them and after that, you see what you expect.

There was, apparently, back in the day, a plea on the back of Chemical and Engineering news regarding the endangerment of the ketene animals due to habitat destruction and over-hunting.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:30 AM on February 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised that the publishers were using spell check back in 1967, but that is pretty funny.
posted by grouse at 9:33 AM on February 28, 2012


Having a prescription for it certainly simplifies the process.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:39 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I get my phenylacetic acid Sudafed® from the barrel with the bee on it"
posted by blueberry at 9:55 AM on February 28, 2012


The misspelling thing is disappointing, but the standards at Miskatonic University have really slipped since I studied there.
posted by thelonius at 10:06 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually had a pharmacist give me a nasty look and question why I needed to buy decongestants twice in two months (um, I need one almost every day in the fall/spring). But then she sold it to me anyway.

Once, after selling one box of sudafed to my allergy-suffering hubby, then one to me, as he had every month for a couple of years, the pharmacist asked me if I needed my own bag, and I told him, "Naw, it's all goin' to the same meth lab."

This cracked up the pharmacist and mortified my husband.
posted by BrashTech at 10:07 AM on February 28, 2012


I imagine buying cigarettes would be like this if gas stations only employed the blind and insane.

You'd be better off purchasing them from a blind person, then, who would be more likely to memorize the order of the shelves' contents than J. Random Convenience Clerk would.
posted by Spatch at 10:15 AM on February 28, 2012


"I actually had a pharmacist give me a nasty look and question why I needed to buy decongestants twice in two months (um, I need one almost every day in the fall/spring). But then she sold it to me anyway. Is that law actually doing anything? I haven't noticed meth disappearing from the crime stats."

I actually was just talking to the (world's chattiest) pharmacist about this last night. I said, "I need sudafed because I have a terrible cold but I already bought one this month, so I'm not sure what the limit is." He asked what size I'd bought before ("I don't know, whatever the biggest one you sell is.") and he got out his calculator and did the math, and told me it was 7-point-something grams per rolling 30-day period in my state, which (math math math) worked out to 3 96-pill packages, so I was fine, and the computer would complain if I was trying to buy too much. Which is a LOT of Sudafed, much more than I would have thought the limit was. (That works out to 144 doses per 30 days, or 4.8 doses/day.) I used to always worry about it so I'm glad I happened to catch Chatty McChatterson at the end of his shift and asked about it, I actually feel much better knowing this.

Most pharmacists I've interacted with have been pretty sympathetic when I have to get the behind-the-counter sudafed -- they know people don't like to deal with it and present their ID and buy at the pharmacy counter instead of with the rest of their purchase, and they don't really like dealing with it either. (And I can't believe I'm saying this, but it's actually better now that they just scan the barcode on our drivers' licenses right into the state database instead of filling out the interminable paperwork. Apparently I am willing to give up civil liberties for cold medicine.)

And no, the law doesn't reduce meth production very much; mostly it removes the casual cookers. The serious meth-makers have alternative sources. Something that DID reduce meth SALES in the rural areas around me was the addition of some kind of pink dye to ammonia fertilizer? (Which meth cooks steal from farmers.) It doesn't bother the plants but makes the meth come out pink and the buyers wouldn't buy it because they were worried it was adulterated or fake. I don't know if that continued to reduce meth sales or if that was a one-time drop until people got used to the pinkness.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:19 AM on February 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I relied on Sudafed to survive Spring and Fall for most of my adult life, but the hassle and increased price pushed me to finally try a neti pot (and eventually the Neilmed Sinus Rinse, which works better for me.) I haven't had a sinus infection or needed to take a decongestant for a couple of years. My case may or may not be typical, but I highly recommend giving nasal irrigation a try if you haven't.
posted by gimli at 10:35 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Between 1998-2003 the company I worked for had a big gallon jar filled with single dose Sudafed packets in the break room. I miss that jar.
posted by the_artificer at 11:21 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I highly recommend giving nasal irrigation a try if you haven't

Nasal irrigation scares me. I suspect it's like being waterboarded.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:10 PM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, if it were prescription only, I could have my allergist prescribe me a month's worth and not have to go back to the pharmacy every damn week.

You can still do this for the behind-the-counter stuff. I once hit my "limit" at the counter, which turned out to be a computer error, but it got me kind of pissed off and ranty. I mean, what if I had to buy for an invalid and I was also an allergy sufferer? A sick teenager at home? The pharmacist recommended that I see my doctor, so I did. He gave me a prescription that would enable me to buy the legal limit once a month. (Which is a whole lot, but at least then you don't have to keep going back.)
posted by RedEmma at 12:24 PM on February 28, 2012


Nasal irrigation scares me. I suspect it's like being waterboarded

Something like this is gentle. I was too scared to netipot it.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:46 PM on February 28, 2012


Netipots and other things of a similar nature don't feel anything like inhaling water. It.. doesn't feel like much of anything, actually.
posted by flaterik at 1:52 PM on February 28, 2012


I was in the US in December, and needed cold meds. Was told that an Irish passport was not legal ID for buying cold medicine, and therefore I couldn't have a decent decongestant.

I can enter the country on it, but it's not enough to prove my identity to so I can buy drugs to stop my nose running?

De fook, like?
posted by piearray at 3:23 PM on February 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


The ridiculous thing about the war on sick people is that it essentially nothing except increase the price a gram of meth by one box of Sudafed.
posted by wierdo at 4:34 PM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did someone say Neti Pot?
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:38 PM on February 28, 2012


« Older John Kennedy's powerful speech on the relationship...  |  Bach's Mass in B Minor: Four ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments