A letter published by The New England Journal of Medicine documented that officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Douglas C. Throckmorton, Scott Gottlieb and Janet Woodcock have warned that non-opioid painkillers could be at the forefront of the next wave of drug abuse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that over 42,000 deaths in the US were due to opioid abuse in 2016, with 40% of all opioid related deaths having involved prescription opioids. As a result, the FDA are encouraging doctors to prescribe alternative opioid drugs when possible and are developing new therapeutics to help people dealing with pain.
However, fears have been raised that curbing prescription opioid abuse could lead to opioid substitutes being used. Substances that are being closely watched include over the counter treatments; benzodiazepines and kratom.
Benzodiazepines are minor tranquillisers used to treat anxiety and insomnia. The effects include sedation, suppressing fits and making the user feel calm and relaxed. When mixed with other depressant drugs like heroin or alcohol, benzodiazepines can cause short term memory loss and nasty withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, anxiety and vomiting. These tranquillisers come in tablet form which people may crush or melt to inject, making them extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal.
The tropical tree known as kratom, grows in marshy areas around Asia and contains the active chemicals mitragynine, mitraphylline and 7-hydroxymitragynine. The effects of taking kratom include an opiate like sedation and a stimulated state of alertness, whilst higher doses can trigger severe nausea and vomiting. Heavy use of the drug can also cause constipation, darkening of the skin, insomnia, dry mouth and anorexia.
As the primary manufacturer of Biochip Array Technology, our cutting-edge multiplex testing capabilities offer rapid and accurate drug detection. Providing the most comprehensive drugs of abuse test menu across multiple forensic matrices, our multi-analyte testing platform allows toxicologists to achieve a complete immunoassay profile in the initial screening phase from a single sample and CVs are typically less than 10%.
With new designer drugs appearing all too frequently, it’s essential to react and create new tests. Our level of expertise in toxicology research and development allows us to do exactly that, evident through our NPS II panel which detects the latest designer drugs including mitragynine. As new psychoactive substances are proliferating at an unprecedented rate the rapid evolution of adequate equipment remains vital.
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By adapting quickly to the ever-changing market influences and developing assays with optimum target compounds and excellent specificities for current and novel drug trends, Randox Toxicology continue to advance the future of toxicology and minimise laboratory workflow constraints.