Drug testing and analysis

Potential impact of drug effects, availability, pharmacokinetics, and screening on estimates of drugs implicated in cases of assault.

PMID 21960542


Drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) is a serious and troubling crime. It is important to know if and how different drugs might be used to facilitate assault in order to deter such crime. There are a number of ways in which drugs that are used for DFSA might not be detected by routine screens. The purpose of this analysis was to draw reasonable inferences regarding drugs with a high likelihood of being used for DFSA and not being detected by routine screens. National data from poison control centres, hospital emergency rooms, and law enforcement seizures were used to evaluate the relative magnitude of problems and illicit availability associated with different classes of drugs. General drug classes were examined to include additional drugs that might be used for DFSA on the basis of their amnesic effects, widespread availability, and pharmacokinetics (i.e. short half-life). The benzodiazepine-site ligands zolpidem and eszopiclone, 'club drugs' GHB and ketamine, muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol, and antihistamines such as diphenhydramine were identified as drugs that might be used for DFSA and remain undetected by routine screens. Future studies that are designed to examine the role of these drugs in DFSA cases could provide better estimates of their use for DFSA. A better understanding of what is being missed in DFSA cases might help prioritize the development of new assays, provide rationale for the availability of particular assays for routine testing, and inform practitioners and the general public of the potential DFSA risks of certain drugs.