BALTIMORE, PRNewswire/ --Ameritox(SM), the nation's leader in pain medication monitoring, today announced that it has developed a test to detect "bath salts," a class of drugs being created in chemistry labs with the purpose of bypassing laws and providing a "legal high."
Though the Drug Enforcement Administration currently includes three synthetic cathinones – known on the street as "bath salts" or "plant food" – on its list of banned Schedule 1 drugs, Ameritox scientists have formulated tests that screen for five additional chemical compositions. This level of screening for bath salts puts Ameritox at the forefront of other pain medication monitoring labs.
Structurally and pharmacologically similar to amphetamine, methamphetamine, and MDMA ("Ecstasy"), synthetic cathinones, or bath salts, are laboratory-created versions of a controlled substance. These substances, however, have no legitimate bathing use, in contrast to Epsom salts. In what some have called a "chemical cat and mouse game," new versions of bath salts are continuously produced with a slightly altered molecular structure to avoid being classified as illicit drugs.
"Physicians know the dangers of combining dangerous substances with powerful prescription painkillers," said Harry Leider, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Ameritox. "Assuring patient safety has taken on new, high-stakes challenges with the proliferation of these designer drugs. Many of these laboratory concoctions are so new they are not yet illegal – but are still extremely dangerous."
Bath salts are said to affect users similarly to methamphetamine, with side effects that can include agitation, combative behavior, hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, seizures and palpitations.
Deaths related to the use of bath salts have occurred in numerous states in recent weeks and poisonings have jumped. In 2011, the National Poison Control Centers received over 6,000 calls about synthetic cathinones, compared to only 300 in 2010.
Bath salts are widely available for $25 to $60 a packet at convenience stores and smoke shops, and the U.S. government has mobilized to combat their rising abuse. In June 2011, the DEA placed three specific synthetic cathinones into its Schedule 1 category of controlled substances, citing the move as "necessary to avoid imminent hazard to the public safety" due to high abuse potential and lack of medical use.
According to DEA, synthetic cathinones are falsely marketed as "research chemicals," "plant food," or "bath salts." Packages usually have the warning "not for human consumption," most likely in an effort to circumvent statutory restrictions for these substances. Common brand names for these are Purple Rain, Cloud 9, White Rush and Scarface.
Ameritox has developed tests for bath salts that not only detect three common synthetic cathinones that the DEA categorized as controlled substances, but also tests for five other chemical components commonly used in bath salts products.
"These basement chemists will almost certainly alter their formulas to stay one step ahead of the law and urine drug testing, but Ameritox is just as focused on leveraging our state-of-the-art laboratory capabilities to meet the growing dangers posed by the emergence of designer drugs," said Leider. "We know that to best support the efforts of physicians to reduce drug misuse and abuse, our scientific research has to remain leading edge."
For additional information, visit www.ameritox.com.
Ameritox is the nation's leader in Pain Medication Monitoring Solutions®, offering specialized laboratory testing and reporting services. Ameritox's expertise and innovative science provide physicians with insights and support to enhance and optimize the care of chronic pain patients. Ameritox offers the most thorough pain medication monitoring lab process – Rx Guardian(SM) – with Rx Guardian CD(SM), the only pain medication monitoring process with a proprietary normalization algorithm and a reference database of pain patients clinically assessed for adherence. Patient results are compared against this database, helping physicians assess whether patients are taking their pain medications correctly. Monitoring through prescription drug testing helps physicians make more informed clinical decisions and manage the risks and complexities associated with prescribing pain medications. Ameritox is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. with laboratory facilities in Midland, Texas and Greensboro, N.C. Ameritox can be found online at www.ameritox.com, on Twitter @Ameritox, on Facebook at facebook.com/ameritox, and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/ameritox.