In the past few years there has been concern in Western Europe and in the US about the rise in abuse of phenazepam, a benzodiazepine that was originally developed in the USSR in the mid- to late 1970s.(1-4) Although phenazepam is one of the most widely prescribed benzodiazepines in Russia and other commonwealth of independent state (CIS) countries, it has not been licensed elsewhere in the world. Due to very limited licensed geographical distribution, there is very little peer-reviewed literature that is not written in Russian. In this article, we review the current state of what is currently known about phenazepam. This information on phenazepam and how it can be detected in biological specimens should assist the forensic community in identifying phenazepam in routine toxicology screening and interpreting any phenazepam concentrations that are obtained.
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