Bath Salts

While any society can be caught by surprise at the emergence of a new and widespread drug addiction, the rise of bath salts was one of the most unexpected. MDPV, the active stimulant drug in substances labeled as “bath salts,” was first created by scientists in the 1960s, with little awareness of the drug’s potential for abuse until the mid-2000s.

As if out of nowhere, officials in Germany and the U.S. began seizing illicit MDPV in 2007 and 2008. By 2011, public attention toward bath salts reached a fever pitch. The year saw dozens of emergency room visits due to use of the drug, state and national bans on bath salts, and high-profile cases of extreme aggression and violence. As of 2015, a closely related drug known as “flakka” was implicated in many disturbances and arrests as well, and hundreds of cases of bath salt use have been reported to poison control centers. As these new drugs continue to spread, authorities are keeping a close eye on bath salts in the hopes of averting an even greater crisis.


Bath Salts Discovered

The synthetic cathinone found in bath salts, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (or MDPV), is developed by a team of chemists at Boehringer Ingelheim.



Bath Salts Patent Filed

Boehringer Ingelheim files a patent application for MDPV. The drug remained an obscure and rarely used stimulant, up until its reemergence in the early 2000s.



First Recreational Use

Bath Salts first appear as a recreational drug, and the first mention of MDPV appears in Drugs-Forum.



German Seizures

The first seizure of MDPV used as a recreational drug occurs in Germany.



Police Seize Bath Salts

The first U.S. seizure of bath salts is made in Dayton, Ohio, by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.



The Bans Begin

Sales and possession of bath salts are banned in Florida, Louisiana, and North Dakota.


Pamela's Law


MDPV is banned in New Jersey after Pamela Schmidt, a Rutgers University student, is brutally murdered by a man thought to be high on bath salts during the crime. Toxicology reports later revealed no presence of the drug in his system.


Reported Overdose Death


An Alton, Illinois, resident reportedly dies from an apparent MDPV overdose.


Emergency Room Visits Explode


A total of 71 emergency department visits by 65 patients who used bath salts are reported in Michigan since November 13, 2010.


Face-Eating Attack


Rudy Eugene, a Miami resident, attacks 65-year-old Ronald Poppo and attempts to eat his face. While toxicology reports later showed no trace of bath salts, the attack raised awareness about the drug immensely.


Emergency Ban of MDPV


The DEA issues a temporary (one-year) ban on the distribution and possession of MDPV, classifying the synthetic compound as a Schedule I substance.


Synthetic Drug Ban


Bath salts, along with a host of other synthetic drugs, are banned from being sold legally in stores by the U.S. House of Representatives.



High Schoolers Using Synthetic Drugs

The annual Monitoring the Future Survey reports that 1 in 9 12th-graders in the U.S. admitted to using synthetic drugs within the past year. 1.3% of 12th-graders reported using bath salts. This was the first year bath salts are included in the survey.




Chemically related to bath salts, newly emerging synthetic drug Flakka has been responsible for numerous arrests and public disturbances during the past several months.


Chinese Drugs Flood U.S.

There are 451 cases of human exposure to bath salts in poison control centers through October 31, 2015.

The 2015 NDTA reports that the import of synthetic cathinones from China is currently one of the largest drug-related issues the nation faces.