The amphetamines are a group of central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, which produce most of their biological effects by enhancing neurotransmission at catecholaminergic synapses in the peripheral and central nervous systems. The term amphetamines usually includes dextroamphetamine, levoamphetamine, racemic amphetamine, and methamphetamine. Amphetamine (α-methylphenethylamine) is the prototype drug of this class and exists in 2 stereoisomeric forms. The dextroisomer, d-amphetamine, is about 3 times more potent as a CNS stimulant than the levo form, l-amphetamine. In contrast, the latter compound has more potent cardiovascular effects. Methamphetamine (N-methyl α-methylphenethylamine) is a more potent CNS stimulant than d-amphetamine. There are several other chemical analogs of amphetamine that produce similar biological effects. These include methylphenidate, pipradrol, and a variety of compounds that are presently marketed for their appetite suppressant effects.
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