Sam Houston state developing lab test for bath salts

Sam Houston State University is developing a laboratory test to detect the use of bath salts, a new designer drug that was added to the list of illegal substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2011.

Sam Houston State University received a federal grant from the National Institute of Justice to create a test for key components of in in crime labs.

Bath salts, also known as synthetic cathinones, were legally sold in convenience stores, head shops and on the Internet until being included on the list of through an emergency order by the Enforcement Administration in October 2011. These drugs, that are capable of producing powerful hallucinogenic and adrenergic effects, are routinely seized in drug cases around the Houston metropolitan area and throughout the nation.

"Bath salts are the new breed of designer amphetamines, and they pose a number of challenges for from a public safety and public health standpoint," said Sarah Kerrigan, Director of the Forensic Science Program at Sam Houston State University.

According to the , bath salts also have adverse effects including rapid which may lead to heart attacks and strokes, chest pains, nosebleeds, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Those who abuse the substance also report agitation, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, depression, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, and panic attacks.

According to a 2011 report from the National Drug Intelligence Center, drug users are attracted to bath salts because they can evade most drug tests and, as a result, it may not be detected in impaired driving cases or death investigations.

"Analytical limitations for state and local forensic toxicology laboratories impact criminal and death investigation casework, and these deficiencies can have serious criminal justice consequences," Kerrigan said.

While bath salts are easy to detect in seized samples, such as pills, powders and capsules, once they are ingested, they pose a number of challenges in the toxicology lab. The Department of Forensic Science will develop a procedure to detect at least eight of the most common components found in bath salts in biological evidence. These components include mephedrone, flephedrone, methylone , butylone, ethylone, methedrone, MDPV, and naphyrone.

Many toxicology labs use gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to identify drugs in biological evidence. The new study will target a wide variety of the new designer drugs using one procedure.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers tackle designer drug craze

Jul 16, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- President Obama signed a bill into law this week designating certain chemicals found in designer drugs as FDA-controlled substances.

Bath salts emerging as new recreational drugs

Oct 24, 2011

The use of bath salts as recreational drugs has greatly escalated in recent years. Researchers from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma describe an incident of a man experiencing significant ...

White House warns of 'bath salt' stimulants

Feb 02, 2011

President Barack Obama's drug czar warned Americans Tuesday about the growing threat of designer drugs marketed as "bath salts" that are in fact dangerous amphetamine-type stimulants.

Recommended for you

WHO: Millions of Ebola vaccine doses ready in 2015

Oct 24, 2014

The World Health Organization says millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines will start being tested in March.

Added benefit of vedolizumab is not proven

Oct 23, 2014

Vedolizumab (trade name Entyvio) has been approved since May 2014 for patients with moderately to severely active Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis. In an early benefit assessment pursuant to the Act on the Reform of the ...

Seaweed menace may yield new medicines

Oct 22, 2014

An invasive seaweed clogging up British coasts could be a blessing in disguise. University of Greenwich scientists have won a cash award to turn it into valuable compounds which can lead to new, life-saving drugs.

User comments