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Toxicity after reported use of 'benzofury' compounds ([2-aminopropyl]-2,3-dihydrobenzofurans) compared with mephedrone: a report from the UK National Poisons Information Service

Author/s Kamour A, James D, Lupton DJ, Cooper G, Eddleston M, Vale JA, Thompson JP, Thanacoody HKR, Hill S, Thomas SHL
Year 2014
Type of publication Conference proceeding

Background: Recreational use of (2-aminopropyl)-2,3-dihydrobenzofurans “benzofury compounds” first emerged in the United Kingdom in 2010. The first enquiry to the UK National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) was received in July 2010, shortly after legal control of mephedrone in the United Kingdom in April 2010.

Objective: This study was conducted to compare the demographics and toxicity reported following exposure to benzofury compounds and mephedrone, using data collected routinely by NPIS.

Methods: NPIS patient-specific telephone enquiries and user sessions for TOXBASE®, the NPIS online information database, relating to benzofury compounds and mephedrone (ingestion only) were reviewed from March 2009 to April 2013. Cases involving co-ingestion of other substances (apart from alcohol) were excluded from the comparison.

Results: There were 64 telephone enquiries and 741 TOXBASE user sessions regarding benzofury compounds during the period of study; most enquiries were received in August 2010 (33 calls, 112 TOXBASE sessions). All use was by ingestion; in 9 patients other substances were also involved (5-iodo-2-aminoindane (5-IAI), etizolam, dimethocaine, mephedrone, and 5,6-methylenedioxy-2-aminoindane (MDAI), alpha methyltryptamine, olanzapine, and sildenafil). The remaining 55 cases were compared with 304 patients using mephedrone alone by ingestion. Stimulant features such as tachycardia, hypertension, mydriasis, palpitation, fever, increased sweating, and tremor (72.7% vs. 38.8%; odds ratio [OR] 4.2; 95% confidence intervals [CI], 2.22–7.95, P = 0.0001) and mental health disturbances (60% vs. 37.5%; OR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.39–4.50, P = 0.0027) were significantly more common after use of benzofury compounds. The WHO/IPCS/EC/EAPCCT Poisoning Severity Scores (PSS) of moderate or severe were recorded more frequently in benzofury users (45% vs.16%; OR, 4.44; CI, 2.41–8.21, P = 0.0001). No fatalities were reported to NPIS following benzofury exposure, compared with 2 deaths for oral mephedrone (P = NS).

Conclusion: Stimulant effects, mental health disturbances, and PSS of moderate or severe are more commonly reported in NPIS enquiries involving benzofury compounds than after oral use of mephedrone.


  • The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) (England, Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2010. 
  • Persson HE, Sjöberg GK, Haines JA, et al. Poisoning severity score. Grading of acute poisoning. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1998;36: 205–13. 
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