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GC-MS and GC-IR analysis of methylenedioxyphenylalkylamine analogues of the psychoactive 25X-NBOMe drugs

NCJ Number
Forensic Chemistry Volume: 23 Dated: May 2021
Date Published
May 2021

This research project prepared and evaluated 12 secondary amines representing structural analogues of the classic NBOMe category of novel psychoactive substances in GC-EI-MS and vapor phase GC–IR studies


These compounds all contain the methylenedioxy group fused with the aromatic ring of the phenethyl moiety in the classic NBOMe chemical framework. One subseries of analogues, the three regioisomeric phenylisopropylamines, can be viewed as the N-methoxybenzyl analogues of 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA). Another subseries of three regioisomers contains the bromine and two methoxy groups at positions 2, 4 and 5 of the benzyl side of the molecule. The GC properties and the correlated EI-MS fragmentation products of these amines and some trifluoroacetamide derivatives were evaluated and compared to the traditional drug of abuse 25B-NBOMe. The compounds in this study are not currently known drugs of abuse and this proactive investigation provides data for differentiation of these analogues from the current NBOMe drugs of abuse. The observed GC elution order for the regioisomeric methoxybenzyl analogues on an Rxi®-17Sil MS phase was the 2-methoxy isomer eluting before the 3-substituted isomer, and the 4-substituted isomer eluting last. A similar comparison for the position of methylenedioxy fusion shows the 2,3-substituted isomer eluted before the 3,4-substituted isomer. All these secondary amines undergo EI fragmentation yielding the iminium cation via C–C bond cleavage of the phenethyl chain and the two benzylic cationic species. The mass spectra for the trifluoroacetyl derivatives in the bromodimethoxybenzyl substituted subseries provided additional structural information based on unique fragmentation processes. These characteristic ions are formed following initial hydrogen rearrangement within the molecular radical cation. The vapor phase infrared (vpIR) spectra confirm the position of substitution of the methylenedioxy, methoxy and bromodimethoxy groups. (publisher abstract modified)


Date Published: May 1, 2021