New Wave of Complex Street Drugs Puzzles Emergency Doctors.
Study may fuel need for more comprehensive drug testing in hospitals.
Researchers set out in 2016 to identify the kinds of illicit drugs causing overdoses in patients presenting at the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore and the University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, a suburb of Washington. The researchers, from the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), were generating reports about patterns of drug use in the criminal justice system and they decided to apply their technique to hospitals.
At the time, emergency department physicians at the two hospitals were dealing with an increase in accidental overdoses and deaths they thought were caused by the synthetic marijuana product called K2 or Spice. Working with these doctors, the researchers analyzed de-identified urine specimens and linked them to de-identified patient medical records at the two hospitals. The urine specimens were tested for 26 synthetic cannabinoids, 59 designer drugs, and 84 other illicit and prescription drugs.
“’We were thoroughly amazed that in a study where we thought everyone was having a synthetic cannabinoid-related problem, only one specimen tested positive for synthetic cannabinoids,’ says principal investigator Eric Wish, PhD, Director of CESAR at the University of Maryland, College Park, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences.”
About a year later, the lab expanded its tests for synthetic cannabinoids from 26 to 46 metabolites, but only a quarter of the samples tested positive for synthetic cannabinoids, much smaller than anticipated.
Marijuana was the most common individual drug detected in the urine specimens. From a fifth to a third of specimens at each hospital also tested positive for a new substance other than synthetic cannabinoids. Two thirds of patients at both hospitals tested positive for multiple substances; some specimens contained as many as six different kinds. After marijuana, fentanyl was the drug most frequently present in Baltimore specimens while PCP was the second-most frequent substance in specimens in Cheverly.
The researchers conclude that drug use is a much more complex problem than previously thought.
Source: The Marijuana Report 22.08.2018