Methaqualone is a sedative-hypnotic drug that is similar in effect to barbiturates, a general central nervous system depressant. The effects were first noted by Indian researchers in the 1950s and in 1962 methaqualone itself was patented in the US by Wallace and Tiernan. Methaqualone was introduced into the pharmaceutical market as non- addictive “sleeping pills” in 1965. Its use peaked in the early 1970s as a hypnotic, for the treatment of insomnia, as a sedative and as a muscle relaxer. It has also been widely used as a recreational drug, commonly known as Quaaludes, Sopors, Ludes or Mandrax.
Effects can include euphoria, drowsiness, reduced heart rate, reduced respiration, increased sexual arousal (aphrodisia), and paresthesias (numbness of the fingers and toes). Larger doses can induce respiratory depression, slurred speech, headache, and photophobia (a symptom of excessive sensitivity to light).
An overdose can cause delirium, convulsions, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, vomiting, renal failure, coma, and death through cardiac or respiratory arrest. It resembles barbiturate poisoning, but with increased motor difficulties and a lower incidence of cardiac or respiratory depression.