Phencyclidine: The Dawn of a New Age
April, 1956 : The pharmaceutical company Parke & Davis first synthesize what
they believe to be the perfect anesthetic (Souza, 1995). When administered to
patients, it causes a completely dissociative state, with no significant
respiratory or cardiovascular depression. Patients appear to be awake, eyes
open, breathing normally.but are unaware of their surroundings or the procedures
being performed upon them (Souza, 1995). Indeed, this is the perfect drug.
Unfortunately, like all good things, this one has a darker side. 15% of
patients awake from their slumber with what appeared to be an acute case of
paranoid schizophrenia (Peterson; Stillman, 1978). The drug is PCP, and to this
day it is the scourge of the underground drug community, and the focal point of
intense scientific research. Parke Davis and Company did not know how terrible,
and wonderful, a discovery they made that day; but our world has been changed
forever because of it.quite possibly for the better.
The Dust of Angels
Phencyclidine, more commonly known as PCP, is a polycyclic compound belonging to
the arylcyclohexylamine class of chemicals [figure 1.0] (Souza 1993). In pure
form, it is a white powder which readily dissolves in water. The cyclohexamines
are known for their the potent neurological effects, with PCP being the most
potent. Almost every variation has been administered to, or abused by, humans at
some time (Nintey Fifth Congress, 1978). All these compounds have similar
pharmacological effects, which vary considerably according to the amount
administered. Small doses produce a `drunken' state, in which subjects report a
numbness in the extremities, while some species (like dogs and cats) become
quite excited (Halberstadt, 1995). Intermediate doses have anesthetic and
analgesic effects , with the psychic state resembling sensory isolation with one
important exception: the sensory impulses (when tested electrophysiologically)
reach the neocortex but "the neuronal signals are grossly distorted"
(Halberstadt, 1995). Large doses, especially of PCP, may produce convulsions.
Any dose produces cataleptoid muscle effects (Halberstadt, 1995). All the
chemicals in this class produce a range a physiological effects, including
tachydardia and hypertension (Halberstadt, 1995). Unlike the other
cyclohexamines, however, PCP causes severe "emergence delirium" when taken in
moderate to anesthetic quantities (Halberstadt, 1995). On the other hand,
ketamine, a close cousin of PCP, produces depressant effects which are more
amplified than PCP without the psychotic aftereffects (although hallucinations
are reported by patients during sedation, (Halberstadt, 1995)). In special cases,
ketamine is still used as an anesthetic. (C.H. Badenhorst M.D, personal
Ten years after its initial discovery, phencyclidine found a new
audience in the scientific and underground drug culture communities...