Currently Applied Naming Conventions for Various Subclassifications of Novel Psychoactive Substances

Currently Applied Naming Conventions for Various Subclassifications of Novel Psychoactive Substances


May 2022


The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in partnership with its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) at RTI International and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, convened a virtual Medicolegal Death Investigation Data Exchange Working Group (MDI-Data-WG) over 12 months, beginning in September 2020. The MDI-Data-WG was formed to advance forensic science and ensure communication between medical examiners and coroners (ME/Cs), death investigators, forensic scientists, and other stakeholders. An MDI-Data-WG subcommittee focused on methods of capturing and dissemination information on the types of drugs involved in deaths, including drug taxonomy and other categorizations and classification needs concerning drug naming, drug terms, drug mappings, and drug classifications. The goal is to disseminate information to all relevant stakeholders to facilitate information exchange of data related to drug overdose mortality. The work of the MDI-Data-WG resulted in a final report published by NIJ's FTCOE and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that included guidance on moving toward consistency, data standards, best practices for improving the process of handling novel psychoactive substances. The efforts of this working group resulted in various user case profiles, presentations, implementation forums, further research, and process mapping and evaluations of the various processes. This document is part of the final report.

This document outlines recommended naming conventions for several popular novel psychoactive substances (NPS) subclassifications; however, it is not all-inclusive. Example figures and the currently used or existing naming conventions are included for each.

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence report was provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. This work was also supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Contract Number HHSM500201200008I, Task Order Number 200-2016-F-91567).

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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