Flephedrone (R/S)-1-(4-Fluorophenyl)-2-(methylamino)propan-1-one, also known as flephedrone or 4-


Flephedrone (R/S)-1-(4-Fluorophenyl)-2-(methylamino)propan-1-one, also known as flephedrone or 4-
FMC, has emerged in recent years as a recreational psychostimulant. Its synthesis was first
published in 1952 in order to explore the potential for antithyroidal, antibacterial and
bacteriostatic properties. Publications about the detection of 4-FMC obtained from Internet
sources and test purchases started to appear from 2009 onwards. The first official notification
submitted to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) by
a European member state was 2008. Since then, it has been detected across the globe as a
reflection of modern forms of trade within a globalised world. As was the case with many
other emerging substances with psychoactive properties, commonly used terms include “legal
highs”, “bath salts” or “new psychoactive substances” (NPS) in the attempt to highlight the
fact that many, if not most, did not originally fall under any legislative control and that
detailed data on both pre-clinical and clinical levels were normally less well explored.
The amount of research data on 4-FMC is comparatively small in comparison with other
cathinones such as 4-methyl-N-methylcathinone (mephedrone) or 3,4-
methylenedioxypyrolvalerone (MDPV) but the currently available data suggest that the
psychoactive and behavioural profile of 4-FMC, for example demonstrated by drug
discrimination and in-vitro studies, show similarities to psychomotor stimulants such as
cocaine, methcathinone and methamphetamine although it appears that it be less potent. It has
been demonstrated that key targets of 4-FMC include monoamine transporters and that it
functions as a catecholamine-selective substrate-type releaser of dopamine and
While 4-FMC was a low potency partial agonist at the 5-HT1A receptor, it was found to be an
antagonist with very low potency at 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors. 4-FMC was observed to
act primarily as a substrate at the human dopamine (hDAT) and human norepinephrine
transporter (hNET), with the latter being more pronounced than methamphetamine. In
addition, it was observed to display appreciable affinity to the hα1A adrenoceptor and rat trace
amine-associated receptor 1.
The ability to induce DA release similar to methamphetamine-type substances known to act as
hDAT substrates makes it likely that 4-FMC may show abuse potential. It seems conceivable
that, especially at high dosage levels, extensive release of NE in combination with hα1A
adrenoceptor activation might also contribute to enhanced cardiotoxic effects, in addition to
dopamine-mediated stimulation.


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