Bruker Forensic
February 2022

“New psychoactive substances" (NPS) have been known in the market by terms such as “legal highs”, “bath salts” and “research chemicals”. UNODC* uses the term “new psychoactive substances" which are defined as “substances of abuse, either in a pure form or a preparation, that are not controlled by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but which may pose a public health threat”.

The term “new” does not necessarily refer to new inventions — several NPS were first synthesized decades ago — but to substances that have recently become available on the market.

*United Nations Office On Drug and Crime


Analytical technologies contribute to addressing the situation.

NMR Tackle Psychoactive Substances

The adverse consequences of new psychoactive substances (NPS) can be severe and include death. The suppliers of these drugs exploit loopholes in the law that mean that newly emerging compounds that have not yet been identified and scheduled by the authorities are not illegal.


A recent study by researchers from the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Ernst et al. 2019) used NMR to characterize a newly described NPS prevalent in drug samples purchased online.

Rapid Narcotics Analysis by Orthogonal Methods: MS meets NMR

Detection of illegal drugs is an ongoing battle and the rapid analysis and identification of prohibited substances is critical to prevent their importation and widespread distribution

NMR in Forensic Analysis

Customs and border control authorities are facing unprecedented challenges due to fraudulent activity across several sectors, ranging from narcotics, doping agents, global waste trade, chemical warfare agents and even explosives manufacturing.