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Biomarker Experts Suggest How To Get The Right Forensic Drug Analysis

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Identifying drugs and their related compounds in powders, liquid and solid forms is the most crucial aspect of forensic drug analysis. The analytical approach employed in forensic drug analysis must be reliable and accurate to detect drugs and their toxins in small study samples.

The ultimate goal of forensic drug analysis is to collect, preserve and analyze such compounds. It is the investigator’s job to ensure that the integrity of the samples is always preserved. Several biomarker validation services and clinical biomarker services offer robust biomarker analysis to support the assessment of forensic drug compounds. Besides, newer techniques such as MSD biomarker assays provide biomarker labs with the expertise for analyzing complex forensic drug products. Hence, the current article is suggestions from biomarker experts so that biomarker labs can upgrade their forensic drug analysis.

Collection and preservation

Let us first briefly understand the process of collecting and preserving forensic drug products. Analysts must accurately weigh the drug product, along with its packing material. This weighing is necessary for all forensic drugs. However, liquid drugs must be measured in their respective volumes. Moreover, for individual drugs or drugs packed individually in packets, analysts must weigh the dosage individually.

Post sample collection, the primary focus is on preserving drug samples. Some drugs may need envelopes, while some may require sealed containers. Besides, adequate care must be taken to avoid any kind of chemical reaction with the container material.

How to get the right forensic drug analysis?

A central laboratory is designated for conducting all the necessary forensic analyses. Each lab will have a specific protocol to handle and assess forensic drug products. Generally, there are three test protocols each laboratory must conduct for a thorough forensic drug analysis. These tests include weight tests, presumptive tests, and confirmatory tests. Let us dive deep into each of these tests individually.

Weight test

As the name suggests, a weight test determines the weight of the drug product. As discussed earlier, forensic drugs may come in any shape or form. Hence, analytical balances are used to weigh the drug and determine the necessary steps for further testing.

Presumptive tests

These tests are preliminary screening protocols to assess the general properties of the drug product. These tests help an analyst narrow down the approach for subsequent confirmatory tests. Presumptive tests may include microscopic analysis, microcrystalline tests, UV spectroscopy, and gas chromatography. Once the analyst is satisfied with the preliminary screening, the next step is the confirmatory tests.

Confirmatory tests

In this final stage of forensic analysis, an analyst conducts two sets of forensic testing, separation and identification analysis. This two-step approach ensures that individual components of the drug are separated and identified separately. Generally, gas chromatography, wet chemistry, or capillary electrophoresis is used to separate individual sample components. After separation, analysts may use infrared or mass spectrometers to identify individual drug components.

Hence, forensic drug analysis is a complex endeavor. Laboratories undertaking forensic analysis may thus benefit from this brief guide on robust forensic drug analysis.

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