Synthetic drugs are those substances that are produced entirely from chemical reactions in a laboratory. Their chemical structure can be identical to naturally occurring drugs, such as cocaine and opium, but they are often designed to enhance effects from naturally occurring drugs, or to prevent side effects that are unwanted. Many purely synthetic compounds with no alternative natural source are classified by the chemical structure of the parent synthetic compound. Drugs that share a common core structure belong to a particular group. But members within a particular group may produce different effects. Pharmacological activity within a group may vary widely.
The members of the ecstasy group are also classified as “designer drugs”. They are structurally related to a controlled drug and produce certain psychoactive effects. They have been designed on the basis of the chemical structure of a given parent drug, and made specifically for sale on the illegal market and to bypass regulations on controlled substances. In response, regulations now commonly cover novel and possible analogues of existing psychoactive substances.