Dimethocaine, also known as DMC or larocaine, is a compound with a stimulatory effect. This effect resembles that of cocaine, although dimethocaine appears to be less potent. Just like cocaine, dimethocaine is addictive due to its stimulation of the reward pathway in the brain.
However, dimethocaine is a legal cocaine replacement in some countries and is even listed by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) under the category “synthetic cocaine derivatives”. The structure of dimethocaine, being a benzoic ester acid, resembles that of procaine. It is found as a white powder at room temperature.
When a product sold online in the UK in June 2010, advertised as dimethocaine was tested, it was found to in fact be a mixture of caffeine and lidocaine, and the lack of any dopaminergic stimulant ingredient in such mixes may explain the limited recreational effects reported by many users. Other samples tested have however been shown to contain genuine dimethocaine, and one branded “bath salt” product containing primarily dimethocaine as the active ingredient, was noted to have been particularly subject to abuse by intravenous drug users in Ireland.
Dimethocaine was originally synthesized by the Hoffmann-La Roche company in 1930. It was sold under the market name larocaine. During the 1930s dimethocaine gained popularity in the US as a local anesthetic. Just like cocaine and procaine, it was used during surgery, primarily in dentistry, ophthalmology and otolaryngology. However, in the 1940s, it was removed from the market because of its psychoactive effects and risk of addiction. Nowadays dimethocaine is abused for these psychoactive effects. It is sold as a cocaine surrogate to circumvent legislation issues.
Dimethocaine and structurally related local anesthetics like cocaine and procaine are suggested to inhibit the uptake of dopamine (DA) by blocking dopamine transporters (DAT). The dopamine transporter controls the dynamics of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This neurotransmitter controls many functions including movement, cognition and mood. Drug like cocaine and dimethocaine induce dopamine overflow by inhibiting dopamine transporters and thus creating a euphoric effect.