Researchers tackle designer drug craze

July 16, 2012

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

As a result, selling and distributing , synthetic and synthetic is now a crime just like other . In recent months, many states have taken steps to ban bath salts and other related drugs in light of several attacks believed to have been triggered by these drugs. According to Anthony DeCaprio, director of the Forensic and Analytical Toxicology Facility at FIU’s International Forensic Research Institute, bath salts and other , which are drugs developed to avoid the provisions of existing drug laws, have been around for a long time.

“MDMA or Ecstasy, for example, was developed back in 1912. Over the years, amateur chemists have been making versions of these drugs on their own, which have never been tested or regulated by FDA or DEA. Now there are hundreds and hundreds of these designer drugs,” DeCaprio said.

The individuals making the drugs can alter the formula of the drugs to create compounds that are different, only by a few molecules from those banned, to get around and DEA regulations. However, this new ban also outlaws any compounds that may be produced in the future by altering the chemical formula and producing the same effects as the known compounds.

“We have been conducting research on developing new and better methods for screening for these compounds,” DeCaprio said. “Because it is easy to modify their chemical structures, new drugs are constantly introduced and it is necessary to have validated methods to quantify and identify them.”

Currently, standard testing does not detect the range of compounds that are out there.

“To my knowledge, no forensic toxicology lab in the U.S. or elsewhere is currently capable of routine screening for all of the many hundreds of designer drugs currently available on the street,” DeCaprio said. “This problem is further complicated by the possibility that some of these drugs may be far more potent than known stimulant drugs like methamphetamine or Ecstasy, which makes them even harder to detect and identify.”

Explore further: Australia: Ecstasy loses its shine

Related Stories

Australia: Ecstasy loses its shine

May 10, 2011
Ecstasy, one of the most popular "recreational" drugs in Australia over the past two decades, is becoming less popular with regular users, consistent with global trends, say the authors of a new report from the National Drug ...

New street drug 'bath salts' packs double punch, mimics effects of two powerful narcotics

February 23, 2012
The street drug commonly referred to as "bath salts" is one of a growing list of synthetic and unevenly regulated narcotics that are found across the United States and on the Internet. New research on this potent drug paints ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use amongst youth stable, but substance abuse admissions up

August 15, 2017
While marijuana use amongst youth remains stable, youth admission to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Report reveals underground US haven for heroin, drug users

August 8, 2017
A safe haven where drug users inject themselves with heroin and other drugs has been quietly operating in the United States for the past three years, a report reveals.

Regular energy drink use linked to later drug use among young adults

August 8, 2017
Could young adults who regularly consume highly caffeinated energy drinks be at risk for future substance use? A new study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol ...

Gamblers more likely to have suffered childhood traumas, research shows

August 2, 2017
Men with problem and pathological gambling addictions are more likely to have suffered childhood traumas including physical abuse or witnessing violence in the home, according to new research.

Incorporating 12-step program elements improves youth substance-use disorder treatment

July 26, 2017
A treatment program for adolescents with substance-use disorder that incorporates the practices and philosophy of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) produced even better results than the current state-of-the ...

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (1) Jul 16, 2012
looks like the crooks are better able to design drugs than the doctors... there are more of these designers coming out than other drugs...
dirk_bruere
Jul 16, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.