Faster Drug Identification

By Anna Kolchinski

Frequently, drug screening in hospitals is a lengthy and expensive process that puts patients at risk, with results frequently coming back only when it is too late to effectively treat the patient. As drug abuse rates, especially those of difficult to identify drugs like synthetic opiates and new hallucinogens, rise, the need for a quicker and more effective method has become crucial. Current techniques cannot keep up with the chemistry of newer compounds, and they frequently come back with high false positives and negatives. This is also a problem in patient drug compliance. If a patient is not adhering to their prescribed drug regimen, the lack of medication in their system is just as crucial to identify as the presence of drugs in an abuser's body. Researchers at McMaster University have published a paper in the journal Analytical Chemistry detailing a possible solution. Their method uses mass spectroscopy, and is thus able to identify new drugs through their similarities to known drugs. This method also has significantly fewer false positives and negatives, eliminating the need for second rounds of screening. With the rise of drugs like fentanyl and molly, the possibility of a quicker and more effective method that could save thousands of lives is revolutionary. 

McMaster University. (2017, November 3). Chemists develop method to quickly screen, accurately identify fentanyl. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 6, 2017 from