NIJ’s FTCoE and Center for Forensic Science Research and Education


Report Date

September 2019


New psychoactive substances (NPS) have always presented a challenge to analytical laboratories tasked with identifying drugs in biological and nonbiological material. The pace at which new compounds appeared on the illicit drug market increased exponentially in the late 2000s, thus magnifying this challenge. Laboratories possess the technical expertise to develop and validate appropriate analytical methods for detecting new compounds; however, many laboratories lack the time and resources needed to keep up with the quickly changing landscape. This guidance document provides laboratories and practitioners with the resources to effectively respond to a dynamic drug market; this information proposes to help identify potential new drug targets, prioritize analytical targets, evaluate the best instrumental techniques for monitoring casework for new drugs, and develop and validate appropriate analytical methods.

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