The diffusion of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) in the illicit drug market is a worldwide problem. The aim of the study is to describe the qualitative distribution of drugs of abuse in seized materials confiscated in the Italian territory over the last two years. Between 2013 and 2015 162 seizures of substances purchased through the Internet and confiscated by police authorities were analyzed: 35 seizures (22%) were crystals of 3-methylmethcathinone (3-MMC). Although 3-MMC is subject to the relevant legislation in Italy, it is not controlled in other countries such as the Netherlands, from which the shipments originated. 33 seizures (20%) were crystals of 4-methylethcathinone (4-MEC), 19 seizures (12%) were powders containing methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). N,N-diallyl-5-methoxytryptamine (5-MeO-DALT) was identified in 5 powders, whereas ethylphenidate in six and pyrrolidinophenones in fourteen seized powders: 6 α-PVP (alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone), 6 α-PHP (alpha-pyrrolidinohexiophenone) and 1 α-PVT (alpha-pyrrolidinopentiothiophenone). Other substances identified were cathinones such as pentedrone, methylone, buthylone, ethylone, methedrone, 3-CMC (3-chloromethcathinone), 3,4-dimethylmethcathinone (3,4-DMMC), flephedrone (4-fluoromethcathinone or 4-FMC), 2-FMC and 3-FMC (2- and 3-fluoromethcathinone), MPPP (4-methyl-alpha-pyrrolidinopropiophenone), bk-2C-B (2-amino-1-(4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl)ethan-1-one). Other compounds were NM2AI (N-methyl-2-aminoindane), MPA (1-(thiophen-2-yl)-2-methylaminopropane), MTTA (mephtetramine), 4-APB and 6-APB (4- and 6- (2-aminopropyl)benzofuran), 2-fluoromethamphetamine, 1mCPP (1-meta-chlorophenylpiperazine) and diphenidine, detected for the first time in Europe. Only three seizures contained synthetic cannabinoids, consisting of herbal blends soaked in N-(1-adamantyl)-1-pentyl-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide (AKB48), or a mixture of 5-F-AKB48 and BB-22 (1-(cyclohexylmethyl)-8-quinolinyl ester-1H-indole-3-carboxylic acid). In some mixtures of drugs - such as granules - 4-MEC and pentedrone were detected, also with traces of diphenidine on one occasion. In other cases 5-MeO-DALT, ethylphenidate and caffeine were mixed together. In one batch, the mixture was flephedrone and methoxethamine, whereas in another one the sample contained methylone, ethylone, methedrone, 4-fluoroamphetamine, 5-MeO-DALT and 5MeO-MiPT (N-methyl-N-isopropyl-5-methoxytryptamine). In 9 seizures, tablets shipped together with NPS were also found to contain sildenafil. The analyses performed on these seizures showed the presence of a wide number of NPS within the Italian boundaries coming from abroad, therefore this study confirms the threat for the public health, especially when the content of NPS being sold is not reported on the label or misleading.
Keywords: Forensic toxicology; GC-MS; HRMS; Health hazard; NPS; Seized material.
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