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Synthetic Drugs Staying Ahead of Regulations

Barry Logan

A fellow of the American Board of Forensic Toxicology, Dr. Barry Logan possesses more than three decades of experience as a leading toxicologist in the field of synthetic drug research. For the past decade, he has leveraged his knowledge as a toxicologist to serve as chief scientist and senior vice president of forensic science initiatives at NMS Labs, where he has studied the rise of synthetic opiates.

Opioid overdoses continue to represent a public health crisis in the United States and abroad. Fentanyl is the culprit in many of these overdoses, as it is often an accompanying agent to heroin. But researchers like Dr. Barry Logan say they are seeing other types of synthetic drugs in these overdoses as well--drugs that differ enough in composition from normal controlled substances that they fall outside of traditional enforcement.
Synthetic opiates such as W-18 and U-47700 are just two of the designer drugs officials are seeing pop up more and more. Now that Fentanyl is a tightly controlled substance in the United States, illicit drug manufacturers are turning to these altered compounds, which produce the same effect, to stay ahead of government regulations and enforcement.
But not all of these drugs are new. Dr. Logan says that some of the compounds can be traced back to clinical trials performed in the 1970s by researchers looking to find other options besides morphine for treating acute pain. Hundreds of these compounds were tested; though never intended for human use, they are now finding their way into the drug ecosystem.

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