You’ve heard of designer handbags, jewelry and clothes, but have you heard all the rage about designer drugs?
As approximately two new designer drugs (more specifically, two new psychoactive compounds) are created every week, the European market is being hit with a new wave of substances that are getting users hooked.
On the flip side, this means scientists are developing new devices that will allow them to accurately pinpoint the chemical compounds found in each of these drugs. These experts say all the compounds are members of the three main drug families (i.e. depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens) – the most fatal being fentanyl.
But the rules in Europe are different than those of the US. Many of these drugs that have been designed by individuals (hence the clever name ‘designer drugs’) are actually legally available through different websites.
News crews found out more information from scientists at an EU drug research center in Ispra, Italy regarding the work they do. Scientists at this drug center receive samples from the state when their rudimentary checks are unsuccessful.
“In general, custom officials rely on data libraries to identify drugs,” said one scientist from the research center. “But for these new drugs, which, have just been synthesized, often there is absolutely no data so we have to start from scratch and we need specialized labs like ours to identify these new structures.”
Fortunately for the scientists working to tackle this new drug wave, the instruments they use are working in their battle to try to get these drugs off the market.
The general aim of scientists at this facility is to create a new designer drug encyclopedia based on the research they’ve gained from testing out the different compounds in each of the drugs. They then communicate this information with customs officials. The EU has registered more than 150 of these new drugs so far.
Experts say the progression of psychoactive substances are increasing every single week. This means scientists must become even quicker at identifying various drugs.
Now, customs officials are able to use handheld devices to pinpoint these substances. As of November, the EU finally considers new psychoactive substances as drugs.