An extensive test portfolio for emerging designer drug compounds




NPS Comprehensive Screen

NMS Labs' comprehensive test portfolio for NPS supports medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement agencies, Drug Recognition Experts, crime laboratories and healthcare providers. Extensive market surveillance allows NMS Labs to continually update the scope of NPS Screens ensuring detection using the most current and relevant tests.

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Designer Opioids

Many familiar licit and illicit opiate drugs are derived from morphine and codeine. These include heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone and others. NPS opioid derivatives are developed by making minor modifications to the original opiate. They may have similar effects or may be more powerful and deadly. They may be scheduled or unscheduled at the federal and state level.

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Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are not one drug. Hundreds of different synthetic cannabinoid chemicals are manufactured and sold and new ones appear each year. They are popular because users often believe they are legal and safe, but many are illegal and have adverse effects. Synthetic cannabinoids can be:

  • Sprayed onto plant material and smoked
  • Mixed into a liquid and vaped in electronic nicotine delivery devices (such as e-cigarettes)
  • Added to herbal tea or to food and swallowed

Consumers can buy synthetic cannabinoids in convenience stores, from individual drug dealers, or online as incense or natural herbal products.They are sold under a number of brand names, including:

  • K2
  • Spice
  • AK-47
  • Mr. Happy
  • Scooby Snax
  • Kush
  • Kronic


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Trusted by our Partners

"Our office is able to stay on top of the latest street drugs because we send samples to one of the leading toxicology labs in the country, NMS Labs."

DuPage County Coroner, The Chicago Tribune (August 14, 2020)



NMS Labs has identified these NPS compounds in postmortem cases (partial list):



  • Carfentanil
  • Furanylfentanyl
  • Acrylfentanyl
  • Methoxyacetylfentanyl
  • Cyclopropylfentanyl
  • 3-Methylfentanyl
  • U-47700
  • 3-MeO PCP
  • Etizolam



  • Fluorofentanyl
  • Tetrahydrofuranylfentanyl
  • Valerylfentanyl
  • Methoxyacetylfentanyl
  • Cyclopropylfentanyl
  • N-Ethylhexedrone
  • 3-MeO PCP



  • Alpha PHP/Alpha PiHP
  • Flualprazolam
  • Isotonitazene
  • Flubromazepam
  • Methoxyacetylfentanyl
  • Cyclopropylfentanyl
  • Valerylfentanyl
  • 3-MeO PCP



  • Eutylone
  • Flualprazolam
  • Isotinitazene
  • Tianeptine
  • Brorphine
  • Pyrazolam
  • Para-fluorofentanyl
  • N-Ethylhexedrone




Disguised by Design: Novel Psychoactive Substances in DUID and Death Investigations

December 9, 2020 | 1pm ET, 10am PT

Geared to highlight the challenges of identifying designer drug compounds for law enforcement agencies, medical examiners and coroners, attendees will learn about the evolution of the most pertinent novel psychoactive substances in 2020 and a view to 2021, including flualprazolam, isotonitazene, eutylone and brorphine.


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Journal Article

The next generation of synthetic cannabinoids: Detection, activity, and potential toxicity of pent-4en and but-3en analogues including MDMB-4en-PINACA

Drug Testing Analysis (September 2020)

Results from toxicology testing paired with case history show the potential for MDMB‐4en‐PINACA to cause or contribute to impairment or death. Forensic scientists, public health and public safety officials, law enforcement, clinicians, medical examiners, and coroners should consider involvement of emergent synthetic cannabinoids in their work and that new analogues containing an alkene tail can retain similar or increased potency and toxicity.


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Journal Article

Brorphine-Investigation and quantitation of a new potent synthetic opioid in forensic toxicology casework using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry

Journal of Forensic Sciences (November 2020)

New synthetic opioids continue to appear as novel psychoactive substances (NPS) on illicit drug markets. Isotonitazene emerged in mid‐2019, becoming the most prevalent NPS opioid in the United States within a few months. Notification by the Drug Enforcement Administration of its intent to schedule isotonitazene in mid‐2020 led to its decline in popularity and replacement with a new NPS opioid: brorphine.


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NPS: Emerging Designer Benzodiazepine


Counterfeit Xanax®, street names “Flualp” and “Hulk”

Flualprazolam is a novel psychoactive substance in the benzodiazepine family and is not currently controlled under the Controlled Substances Act. With NMS Labs’ industry leading forensic surveillance of seized drugs and postmortem casework, flualprazolam was confirmed in 13 different states: PA, SC, NV, LA, TX, OR, CA, IL, NY, OH, KS, MN, and IN in 2019.


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Journal Article

Recommendations for the Investigation, Diagnosis, and Certification of Deaths Related to Opioid and Other Drugs

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology (Volume 41, Issue 3, September 2020)

The National Association of Medical Examiners convened an expert panel to update the association's evidence-based recommendations for investigating and certifying deaths associated with opioids and other misused substances to improve death certificate and mortality data for public health surveillance. The recommendations are as outlined in this position paper.


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Journal Article

Evaluating Trends in Novel Psychoactive Substances Using a Sentinel Population of Electronic Dance Music Festival Attendees

Journal of Analytical Toxicology (August 29, 2020)

Electronic dance music (EDM) festivals have become a popular venue for recreational drug use, including the use of traditional stimulants like 3,4-methylenendioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and novel psychoactive substances (NPS). Using this cohort of people who use drugs recreationally, this study sought to collect biological specimens and self-reported drug use data from EDM festival attendees in the United States (US) to monitor regional and temporal trends related to NPS use and turnover between 2014 and 2017.


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Emerging NPS in Forensic Investigations

Kratom and Mitragynine

Street names: Biak-biak, Ketum, Kakuam, Ithang, Thom

Kratom use is becoming widespread in the USA and internationally. Its major psychoactive ingredient, mitragynine, represents significant challenges in both testing and interpretation. The lab analysis and testing of mitragynine is challenging due to the number of related compounds present in the plant, and the fact that the drug has three chiral centers, with up to eight diastereomers, all with similar mass spectra. NMS Labs is the first commercial lab to develop and offer both clinical and forensic testing for this compound.


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Journal Article

Isotonitazene Quantitation and Metabolite Discovery in Authentic Forensic Casework

Journal of Analytical Toxicology (Volume 44, Issue 6, July 2020)

The synthetic opioid landscape continues to change as non-fentanyl-related substances appear in forensic toxicology casework. Among the newest synthetic opioids to emerge is isotonitazene, an analogue of a benzimidazole class of analgesic compounds. Isotonitazene is an active and potent synthetic opioid, but the extent to which this compound is causing toxicity among drug users was previously unknown. This report describes the confirmation and quantitation of isotonitazene in blood, urine and vitreous fluid through standard addition, as well as in vivo metabolic profile determination in drug users.


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Blog Post

Mitragynine Found More Frequently in Death Investigations

September 30, 2019

The presence of Mitragynine increased in postmortem toxicology and DUID investigations. To better understand the implications NMS Labs interviewed one of our toxicologists.


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