Randox Toxicology on Spain’s War with Heroin
Neighbourhoods across Spain recently came together to form the National Network of Cities and Neighbourhoods affected by Narcopisos, which are abandoned buildings used as drug flats. The Guardian reported how the organisation aims to raise awareness of Spain’s drug problem and shut down the empty properties being used as distribution points to buy, smoke and inject heroin.
Neighbours living close to narcopisos have described the scene as filthy, loud and dangerous. Blood, faeces and syringes have been found on the stairs and doorways to the buildings accompanied with people passing out or fighting. With cheap heroin of a poor quality, the largest narcopiso in Carrer d’en Roig was shut down after receiving up to 150 clients an hour. Barcelona’s city council cleaned up areas and secured properties in Raval as part of a €500,000 project. However, drug dealers are reportedly moving quicker than the courts and police.
When it comes to heroin, dealers do not discriminate and neither does the product. Business executives, pregnant women, teenagers and people with disabilities have all been victim to narcopisos in Spain. In areas such as La Linea de la Concepción, unemployment is at 80% and drug dealing is seen as an opportunity for the youth to make money. In 2017, director the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Alexis Goosdeel reported, “Opioids and often heroin, are present in the majority of cases, often in combination with alcohol or benzodiazepine.”
Utilising our patented Biochip Array Technology, our DoA ULTRA panel offers the most comprehensive drugs of abuse screen across multiple forensic matrices. Detecting up to 20 targets drugs including heroin and other opioids, it has the largest cross-reactivity profile of over 240 analytes. Our excellent assay precision and performance eliminates false reporting, offering CVs of typically <10%. Randox Toxicology produce an accurate drug profile to ensure confidence in results.
Alprazolam, also known as the trade name Xanax, is a widely prescribed anxiety drug in the US. Alprazolam is a minor tranquilliser which can cause sedation, short term memory loss and depress the nervous system, slowing down the brain and body. Recommended for short term use, the drug can be highly addictive and only be obtained on private prescription in the UK.
People have been known to crush or melt the dangerous tranquilliser that comes in a tablet form, to inject the substance. Extremely dangerous and fatal, the chalk in the tablets can cause collapsed veins and lead to an abscess and infection.
A recent article by BBC News uncovered that Alprazolam is being purchased online and abused by children as young as 13. The news comes after reports of social media sites being used to buy dangerous substances and locate drug dealers. In 2017, up to 20 teenagers from Wiltshire needed treatment after using Alprazolam. This year in Sussex alone, several young people have been admitted to hospital after taking the prescription drug.
A spokesperson from Pfizer, a Xanax manufacturer, expressed concerns over the alarming rise of counterfeit Xanax drugs and the growing availability on the dark web. Discussing the issue, they mentioned that ingredients such as boric acid, heavy metals and floor polish have been found in counterfeit Xanax medications. Defined as “part of our youth culture” Nick Hickmott from Addaction states, it is currently debatable how many people are currently using Alprazolam. London’s MP Bambos Charalambous has called for awareness campaigns and further research to be conducted in order to support services.
Alprazolam is not the only widely abused prescription drug, as criminal gangs were reported smuggling tens of millions of prescription drugs out of the UK’s protected supply chain. Northern Ireland have also expressed concerns over the rise of pregabalin, with BBC spotlight revealing a 46% rise from a data base of 20 million prescription records written by GPs across the country in the past four years. However, the biggest killer in Northern Ireland is tramadol, a prescription painkiller taken by thousands daily.
Randox Toxicology offer the most comprehensive drugs of abuse test menu across multiple forensic matrices. Our level of expertise in toxicology has enabled us to provide the DoA ULTRA panel, which can screen for a wide range of prescription drugs of abuse, including Alprazolam and Tramadol. Using our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, Randox Toxicology provide a complete immunoassay profile in the initial screening phase.
For further information, please contact the Randox PR team via email: email@example.com or phone 028 9442 2413
A recent report by the Independent discussed how buying drugs has become as easy as buying ice cream. The report comes after experts named London as a city where cocaine is now delivered faster than pizza. According to the NHS, in the UK 2.7 million people between the ages of 16 and 59 took an illicit drug in 2015 and 2016 (roughly one in 12 adults). As a result, the Global Drug Survey are now looking at the impact of encrypted mobile phone messaging services and other methods that have enabled quick drug deliveries.
However, the drug problem is worldwide. In the US, life expectancy has fallen for the second consecutive year amid concerns of increased drug related deaths, the first multi-year drop since 1962 and 1963 according to the US National Centre for Health Statistics (NCHS). The NCHS documented that more than 63,600 US deaths in 2016 were due to drug related overdoses, a number that continues to increase.
MDMA has continued to appear in the news, after the deadly substance was responsible for the recent deaths of multiple teenagers in the UK. Also known as Ecstasy, MDMA is often described as the original designer drug due to its link with the dance culture in the late 80s and early 90s. Randox Toxicology’s DoA II panel tests for common drugs of abuse, including MDMA and generic opioids.
With the use of Biochip Array Technology, we have made multiplex testing capabilities possible. Our level of expertise in toxicology research and development allows us to adapt quickly to the ever-changing drug market influences and develop assays for current and novel drug trends.
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Purity is a concern with MDMA, which is regularly sold containing other fatal drugs. Newshub released information from Wendy Allison at KnowYourStuffNZ, who stated that only 20 percent of the drugs they tested in New Zealand contained MDMA. KnowYourStuffNZ’s website advises people to avoid certain pressed pills containing large amounts of MDMA. Theses pills include “Green Guccis”, a rectangular green pill with the Gucci logo and “Yellow Rolexes”, a yellow pill shaped like the Rolex crown logo. The comedown of Ecstasy can cause users to feel depression, whilst long term users can suffer from memory problems and anxiety. The use of the Class A drug has also been linked to liver, kidney and heart problems.
With the demand for cocaine in the UK rocketing, Top British Chef Gordon Ramsay has recently travelled to Columbia to the source of the problem, to learn more about this growing epidemic.
Having spent time with local farmers who own cocaine plants that resemble vineyards, and visiting Honduras, one of the most dangerous countries and known as the world’s warehouse of cocaine, he emphasized the urgent need to combat the drugs industry that is consuming this country.
Highlighted throughout the two-part series was the amount of cocaine that is being trafficked to the shores of the UK each year. Speaking with the metropolitan police who tackle up to 200 drug gangs in London alone, it was estimated that up to 300 tons of cocaine, with a street value of £10 billion, is being brought in to the country through a web of secretive routes used by drug traffickers.
Gordon commented that not only is cocaine a growing global problem, but it is one that is prevalent within the culinary world, including his own restaurants where he has been asked to dust the drug on top of soufflés as icing sugar, and found traces of this deadly drug in both his staff and customer toilets.
With the cocaine problem showing no signs of slowing down, Randox Toxicology are constantly working to develop the newest drug tests to meet the demands of the ever-growing drug market. The Evidence MultiSTAT was developed for use in non-laboratory settings such as workplaces, police stations and low throughput laboratories and to provide highly accurate qualitative as quickly as possible.
This revolutionary analyser enables on-site simultaneous detection of up to 21 classical, prescription and synthetic drugs from a single patient sample, reducing the burden on current systems, the risk of adulteration and helping the fight against the cartels who control the cocaine trade in South America.
For more information on our Evidence Analysers or any of our drug panels email firstname.lastname@example.org
Global drug tests provider Randox Toxicology has today pledged its support for the PSNI in the fight against fentanyl, a strong painkiller which has been found for sale on the black market in Northern Ireland for the first time.
Fentanyl, which is an opioid pain medication currently classed as a controlled Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, has been found in heroin which was seized by the PSNI, and has been linked to two deaths in Northern Ireland this year.
It is currently used to safely treat patients with severe pain, as it can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. According to the National Crime Agency and Office for National Statistics however, 60 deaths in the UK in the past eight months have been attributed to misuse of fentanyl, which received international attention when the singer Prince was found to have died from a fentanyl overdose.
Dr. Peter FitzGerald, Founder and Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, commented;
“It is extremely worrying to hear that the PSNI have confirmed fentanyl has reached the black market in Northern Ireland. The illegal sale of the painkiller has long been an issue in the USA, with the country having at least two million opioid addicts, but until now has not been used illegally in NI.
“Fentanyl’s status as a painkiller is potentially why it is so commonly abused, as those using prescription painkillers may turn to illicit substances, such as fentanyl, when their prescriptions run out. With as little as 2mg able to cause an overdose, fentanyl is easily hidden and transported in small packages through the post, so poses a major danger to society. The drug has high abuse potential and is being used more and more by drug dealers who can sell fentanyl at a cheaper price than heroin.”
Randox Toxicology, a specialist division of FitzGerald’s Antrim-headquartered Randox Laboratories, has today issued a statement to pledge its commitment to removing the danger of fentanyl from Northern Ireland. The company’s significant investment in the research and development of new tests for drug detection has cemented its status at the forefront of the drugs screening industry. Randox Toxicology, which developed its first fentanyl test in 2007, has the world’s only tests for the designer opiates U-47700, MT-45 and AH-7921.
Dr. Joanne Darragh, Head of Research and Development at Randox Toxicology, commented;
“In the endless pursuit of creating innovative tests for new drugs which emerge weekly on to the market, our expertise at Randox Toxicology sets us apart from the rest of the industry. Not only have we been first to market with a number of opioid tests, but we have also developed our patented Biochip Array Technology, which enables us to simultaneously screen for both fentanyl and heroin, one of which may have been laced with the other.
“Today we pledge the support of our expertise, based on a decade’s worth of experience in developing fentanyl tests, to the PSNI in their efforts to remove the fentanyl threat from Northern Ireland. This is a problem that we must tackle together and we are confident that by highlighting this growing epidemic, we can educate communities on the devastating effects the misuse of fentanyl can have.”
For further information about Randox Toxicology’s fentanyl screrening please contact Randox PR on 028 9445 1016 or email RandoxPR@randox.com
We’re sure you’ve heard of “Speed Dating”, but what about “Speed Networking”? Randox’s R&D Scientist, Dr. Dwaine Vance tried it out to spread the word about Randox Careers in STEM!
Dr Dwaine Vance visited Omagh High School to represent Randox Careers. He sat down with us, and we discussed the importance of the event. Dr. Vance told us:
On Wednesday the 15th June I represented Randox Careers at a ‘speed networking’ event at Omagh High School. This involved groups of students moving from one employer stand to the next for a 5 minute ‘mini network’. There was two sessions during the morning involving GCSE level pupils. The aim of the ‘speed networking’ event was to provide pupils with opportunities to meet local Northern Irish companies within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sectors, of which Randox Laboratories play a pivotal role.
We, at Randox, want to inspire students to think about their own career plans and to allow them to gather information about the local job market. By doing this, we’re also giving them the opportunity to be aware of the jobs that are available and the importance of STEM related subjects, as well as letting them see how employers value their other curriculum subjects and their personal skills and attributes. My objective as a employee of Randox was to showcase a range of careers for all abilities within the company with a focus on STEM careers e.g. science and engineering.
The importance of spreading awareness of the opportunities in science and engineering from a young age is imperative, as many students are unaware of the vast range of differentiation in different careerpaths, stemming from one subject or degree class. Dr. Dwaine Vance went on to discuss the events of the networking conference:
As part of each ‘mini network’ I provided students with a brief overview of Randox. Students were given the opportunity to watch videos depicting our expertise and to ask questions about how their interests could be incorporated within Randox. The training department at Randox provided me with pop-up stands, recruitment pathway brochures, merchandise e.g. pens, stopwatches, mug coasters and even Biochip Array Technology key rings!
Overall the students gained a good knowledge of Randox, they were particularly keen to learn about the local and global opportunities available at Randox. In addition, students were keen to know more about the veterinary aspect of Randox. It was comforting to discover that the majority of pupils had previous knowledge of the Randox brand from the press (as we have recently experienced a great boost in brand visibility through Grand national sponsorship), Randox health (television adverts) and Confidante (local radio stations).
The pupils at Omagh High School were keen to ask me about my role within the company and what my day to day roles and responsibilities are. I was happy to provide students with my research and development activities and they were interested to hear that I was involved in the development of a genetic test that aims to predict your future risk of heart disease by investigating your own DNA.
At Randox I am part of a small team of experienced research scientists that are developing a genetic risk prediction test for heart disease and myocardial infarction. This test aims to simultaneously genotype 20 genetics variants that have been previously associated with increased risk of heart disease. This Randox molecular test is in collaboration with leading University academics and will help reduce the burden of heart disease throughout the world by providing an accurate risk assessment of disease so personalised treatment can be provided to those who require it most. To quote Randox Health, “Prevention is better than cure”.
From everyone at the Randox Careers team and from Dr. Dwaine Vance, we’d like to thank Omagh High School for inviting us to attend this incredibly beneficial Speed Networking event, where we feel we have truly impacted the young minds of tomorrow. We look forward to the future of diagnostics, with you!