Analytical Forensic Pharmacology/Introduction

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Introduction[edit]

Forensic pharmacology and toxicology, it is seen throughout pop culture in shows such as CSI, Law and Order SVU, Forensic Files, Quincey, Six Feet Under and more. The success of this entertainment genre may be a recent phenomenon, but the history of this science can be dated back to ancient times.

While the techniques practiced today by analytical chemists and forensic scientists are based on a modern understanding of our world, the basis for forensic investigation is anything but modern. In the ancient world, one of the most feared crimes (and most difficult to solve) was poisoning. Around 330B.C. the Romans had publicly forced many individuals accused of poisoning their spouses to eat and drink their own concoctions. (Bell 2) Today’s term forensic is tied to these proceedings. The Latin word forum, where the business and legal proceedings took place. In both business and law, it was hoped that all parties would always tell the truth.

For most people, they may be aware of drug testing as part of employee screening. To others, they may know of it just from television. However, this is where the knowledge of those tests ends. To average-Joe sixpack, it may seem as foreign to him as the ancient civilizations that started our understanding of science. The processes involved in these tests may go unknown to many, but the methods in which drugs can be tested are numerous and diverse. This paper will address the various methods that exist for the screening of drugs of abuse in both for the purposes of drug screening and forensic analysis.

Concepts for Analytical and Forensic Analysis[edit]

Before jumping into the types of tests which may be at the arsenal of investigators, it is important to understand the general idea of how tests should be conducted for investigational research. The array of tests performed on evidence can be thought of like a funnel. (FIGURE-1) To identify drugs, various testing can be conducted so that the possibilities of drugs is narrowed until a drug is identified. The methods for complex analysis are determined based on the results of initial tests often based on straightforward color

For the purpose of efficacy, all substances must be treated as a general unknowns, even if a researcher has a general idea as to what the substance might be. For the earliest of these tests, or presumptive tests, the scientific analysis may be simpler than one would expect.

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