MARYLAND, United States – September 2018: The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) at the University of Maryland recently released the results of a study involving the re-testing of biological samples, which was conducted with emergency department physicians at two hospitals in Maryland. Following a number of suspected synthetic cannabinoid overdose cases, urine samples were re-assessed and results showed that only one-quarter of specimens were in fact synthetic cannabinoids. The study highlights the complexity of detecting substances and treating patients for severe drug-related events, as results revealed that the actual substance taken by patients often differed from the synthetic cannabinoid reported. Notably, one-fifth to one-third of specimens at each hospital tested positive for an NPS other than those reported, while two-thirds of patients at both hospitals tested positive for multiple substances (poly-substance use) with some specimens containing as many as six substances. The two synthetic cathinones, dibutylone and butylone, were the most commonly detected NPS.
This study also accentuates the importance of toxicology analyses to understand the severe adverse health events caused by NPS and their role in combination with other, traditional drugs, as well as the need for comprehensive hospital drug testing. In addition, the study sheds more light on the integration of NPS and other drug markets at the user level.
Source: Wish, E.D., Billing, A.S., Artigiani, E.E., Dezman, Z., Schwartz, B., and Pueschel, J. (2018). Drug Early Warning from Re-Testing Biological Samples: Maryland Hospital Study. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President.
For more information, please see:
NDEWS press release and full report: https://ndews.umd.edu/resources/drug-early-warning-re-testing-biological-samples-maryland-hospital-study
Wish ED, Billing AS, Artigiani EE, Dezman Z, Schwartz B, Pueschel J. “Drug Early Warning from Re-Testing Biological Samples: Maryland Hospital Study." Office of National Drug Control Policy. Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President. July 2018
UNODC Recommended Methods for the Identification and Analysis of NPS