Best Practices Guidance for Advancing Research Initiatives and Combatting the Synthetic Drug Epidemic

Date & Time

Session I – July 17, 2018: 1pm – 4:30pm ET
Session II – July 18, 2018: 1pm – 4:30pm ET
Session III – July 25, 2018: 12pm – 4pm ET


Session I: The Synthetic Drug Crisis – Identifying NPS in Forensic Casework


Session II: Analysis of NPS – Practical Considerations and Analytical Approaches


Session III: Interpretative Toxicology for NPS in Forensic Casework




The Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE) is a world-leading center in novel drug identification and interpretation. The CFSRE is working in association with NIJ’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), led by RTI International, to deliver a series of presentations providing insight into the challenges forensic laboratories face with respect to analysis and interpretation of findings involving novel psychoactive substances.

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence event is provided through a cooperative agreement from the National Institute of Justice [2016-MU-BX-K110], Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice.


One of the current major challenges in the field of forensic drug chemistry and forensic toxicology is the emergence of the large number of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) since 2008. Specific areas affecting laboratories include the following: difficulties keeping up with the most current list of emerging drugs, approaches to collecting drug intelligence to keep their testing scope current, acquisition of instrumentation to meet the needs of novel substance identification, delays in standard reference material acquisition, challenges associated with development and validation of analytical methods for their measurement, and ultimately with the interpretation of the results.

While this phenomenon began with synthetic cannabinoid drugs in 2008 and 2009, subsequent NPS drugs have appeared in the pharmacological categories of stimulants, hallucinogens, and more recently, opioids and benzodiazepines. NPS drug seizures and drug-related overdoses have skyrocketed in recent years and become a focal point within the forensic community. Combatting this crisis requires a multidisciplinary approach and a continued vigilance with respect to current market trends, analytical approaches and case reports.

This online workshop series is focused on sharing information with the forensic analytical community to promote improved capabilities for NPS detection and measurement, as well as outreach to human and public health agencies and practitioners to promote better understanding of patterns of NPS use, diagnosis and treatment in the emergency room, and understanding of their role in determination of cause and manner of death, by collating and sharing information with emergency room physicians, medical toxicologists, and epidemiologists. The goal of this workshop series to provide resource materials and promote a better understanding to the forensic science practitioner community of evidence based best practices regarding the synthetic drug epidemic.