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Captagon trade has taken centre stage in talks again, as Arab League reinstates Syria as a member.


  • It is an amphetamine-type drug.


  • It is highly addictive.


  • The drug stimulates the CNS (central nervous system), leading to:
    • Energy boost
    • Enhanced focus
    • Prolonged wakefulness
    • Sense of euphoria
  • This drug stays in the blood for some 36 hours.
  • When taken orally, the effects peak in 1-3 hours and last for 7-12 hours.
  • It can cause side-effects:
    • Skin flushing
    • High body temperature
    • Loss of appetite
    • Loss of weight
    • Problems in thinking clearly
    • Memory loss
    • Heart problems
    • Stroke
    • Even death


  • Historically used by the Allied forces and Nazi Germany troops during the WWII.
  • According to reports, the US military still uses this drug.


  • Current version emerged in Bulgaria.
    • Smuggled to the Arabian Peninsula by the Balkan and Turkish criminal networks.
  • It is mainly produced in Syria.
  • It is smuggled across West Asia.


  • Original version first produced in 1960s.
    • It contained fenetylline- a synthetic compound of the phenethylamine family.
    • It was produced by Degussa Pharma Gruppe, a German company.
    • It was used to treat:
      • Attention deficit disorders
      • Narcolepsy, etc.
    • It was banned in 1980s due to concerns over its addictive nature.
  • The current version is a counterfeit.


  • It is alleged that the Captagon sale has been a financial lifeline for the al-Assad (Syrian President) government, even as the country continues to suffer the economic crisis going on since 2011, when the civil war broke out.
  • In 2014, it was reported that the drug was being used by the Islamic State and Syrian fighters to supress their appetite and boost their alertness during battles.
  • The foreign ministers of Jordan, Iraq and Syria have agreed to cooperate to identify and curtail the illegal production and smuggling of this drug.
  • Following this meeting, a high-profile Syrian drug smuggler was killed in an airstrike in southern Syria, reportedly carried out by Jordan.
  • Amphetamine use by militaries:
    • Amphetamines were discovered in 1910 and were 1st chemically synthesized in 1927.
    • Its use by the armed forced peaked during the WWII.
      • Pervitin was a methamphetamine used by Nazi Germany. Noted use include during the Blitzkrieg strategy.
      • Benzedrine was an amphetamine sulphate used by the Allied forces.
    • In the US:
      • The US government banned Benzedrine inhalers only in 1965. However, soldiers continued to use it.
      • Reports of the use of ‘go pills’ among pilots of the US Air Force.
      • Use of Dexedrine the US Air Force linked to inadvertent bombing of Canadian soldiers in 2022.

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