Further increase of unexpected ingredients in MDMA samples

In 2022, 298 pills declared as MDMA were handed in for analysis at the Drug Information Center (DIZ) and during mobile operations. 202 of these were tested as part of outpatient drug checking at the DIZ, and 96 as part of the eleven mobile drug checks carried out in the city of Zurich in 2022. Furthermore, 318 crystalline MDMA samples were handed in for analysis at the DIZ last year. 198 of these were tested as part of outpatient drug checking at the DIZ, and 60 as part of the eleven mobile drug checking missions.

The detailed 2022 MDMA evaluation can be found in the attached report. These are the key findings from 2022:


- At DIZ Zurich, as in previous years, some samples with synthesis by-products were found in the MDMA pills and crystalline MDMA samples in 2022. A possible reason for this could be that the producers in the laboratories are under time pressure, have to switch to new synthesis routes due to increasingly stronger regulation of precursor substances and/or work improperly in the synthesis of MDMA. Lack of know-how in dealing with different manufacturing processes of MDMA, relocation of production sites to other countries and/or changing work ethics may also offer further explanations.

- MDMA pills and crystalline MDMA samples containing various new psychoactive substances (NPS) such as the cathinones 4-CMC or 3-CMC instead of or in addition to MDMA have proliferated this year. This is probably due to the fact that these substances were still legally available in some producing countries in 2022 at very low prices and were used as cheap MDMA substitutes, even though they have a slightly different spectrum of effects.

MDMA pills

- From 2013 to 2020, the average MDMA content in MDMA pills rose steadily. In the last two years, this value has now dropped again significantly. Currently, the average content is 150.7 mg MDMA, which is about the same level as in 2016. Nevertheless, 70% of MDMA pills still contain more than 120 mg, which is why the risk of overdose remains high. Presumably, this decrease is related to a slight shortage of MDMA, which can be attributed to the more difficult procurement of MDMA precursors and some law enforcement successes. In addition, some large laboratories in Holland seem to have specialized in the production of more lucrative substances.

- As was the case for the first time in 2021, an exceptionally large number of pills were analyzed at the DIZ in 2022 that looked identical in appearance (logo, shape and color) but had a different MDMA content or contained unexpected ingredients. It is therefore recommended to have "known" pills (e.g. Punisher pills) tested as well.

- Furthermore, around one in ten pills is misdeclared or contains unexpected pharmacological substances in addition to MDMA. This increases the health risk when consuming untested pills.

MDMA Crystals

- Among the analyzed crystalline samples, the number of samples with unexpected substances has increased again this year. For this reason, it is important to have MDMA crystals analyzed.

- The crystalline samples analyzed at the DIZ usually have a very high MDMA content. It is therefore all the more important to pay attention to the dosage. No more than 1.5 mg MDMA per kg body weight for men and 1.3 mg per kg body weight for women should be consumed. Higher doses increase the risk of adverse health effects.

In addition to the MDMA evaluation 2022, a brief summary of the four substances most frequently tested in the DIZ can also be found in the appendix. Further information on MDMA can be found on our website here.


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