Garrett Hart, 21, of Naperville, supplied PMA to Sara Aeschlimann, 18, the day before Mother's Day this year, according to police. Thinking the PMA was the more common drug Ecstasy, Aeschlimann took several tabs of the drug, which is far more dangerous than its pharmaceutical cousin. She later went into convulsions and died the next day.
Aeschlimann is considered the first person to die of PMA in the U.S., although the drug has previously claimed the lives of people in Canada and Australia, but so far is not widely known in the U.S.
Harth was indicted by a DuPage County grand jury on charges of possession with the intent to deliver the drug, and was remanded to DuPage County Jail on June 5.
No Euphoria With PMA
Whereas commoner club drugs are taken for their euphoric effects and feelings of communion, the newer drug raises the body temperature to coma-inducing levels.
"Ecstasy increases your pulse rate and gives you this warm feeling, but is rarely fatal, though it has other long-term effects," said Michael Hillebrand, spokesman for the Chicago branch of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "With PMA, people think that they're getting weak ecstasy and then they take two more. Now it's too late.
"It literally cooks you from the inside out," he said.
But perhaps most dangerous about the drug PMA is its close resemblance to Ecstasy, experts said.
"It looks like ecstasy, even down to the logo," Hillebrand said. "We're talking if you lay two of them side by side, it would take a forensic chemist doing a chemical analysis to do a difference."
Emanuel Sferios, the executive director of DanceSafe, a national nonprofit that aims to prevent drug-related deaths and injuries in the rave and nightclub community, said dealers and manufacturers have been adulterating or substituting ecstasy with PMA because it's easier to make and thus increases profits.