6. Other drugs and pharmaceuticals


  1. What was the original medical use of GHB?
  2. GBL and butanediol are known as prodrugs. What does this mean?
  3. Can IR be used to distinguish GHB from GBL?
  4. How can be GHB and GBL be separated chemically for analysis?
  5. Is NaGHB hygroscopic?
  6. Can GHB (free acid) and GBL be differentiated by NMR analysis?
  7. Name two analogs of GHB.
  8. What special challenges arise in the identification of GBL?
  9. PCP and its analogs contain how many rings in their structure?
  10. Describe three effects of PCP.
  11. What does PCP stand for?
  12. In what sort of form(s) would you typically find PCP?
  13. What makes PCP especially dangerous, compared with other drugs of abuse?
  14. PCP was originally used as a large animal sedative. Why was it discontinued for use in this fashion?
  15. Name a starting material needed for the synthesis of PCP.
  16. What are the safety hazards that a chemist faces when synthesizing PCP? At what point in the synthesis does this hazard occur?
  17. How much ketamine needs to be taken to produce the full psychedelic experience?
  18. Does ketamine have any legitimate uses? If so, what are they?
  19. What is Yohimbe?


  1. Why are tablets sometimes treated differently than other drugs of abuse in legislation?
  2. Why is the analysis of pharmaceutical tablets typically treated differently than analysis of other drugs of abuse (e.g. cocaine or methamphetamine)?
  3. Name a presumptive test for pharmaceutical preparations that cannot be used for any other type of drug of abuse.
  4. What are the trade names of the following substances: Diazepam, Flurazepam, Lorazepam, Alprazolam?
  5. What are the two main classes of sedative-hypnotics?
  6. What are the two types of depressants and what are their effects?
  7. Name several reliable reference sources useful for providing descriptions of physical appearance, morphological characteristics, and markings found on (a) pharmaceutical preparations and (b) illicit materials.
  8. What is the forensic significance of the principal constituent found in Vicks brand inhalers?
  9. Barbiturates are derived from what compound?
  10. How are barbiturates categorized? What are the categories?
  11. Name three barbiturates.
  12. In the US, barbiturate drugs typically have been replaced by other pharmaceutical preparations. Why?
  13. What two barbiturates are found in Tuinal?
  14. Methadone is typically used in the treatment of heroin addicts. Why?
  15. The chemical structure of Fentanyl does not resemble common constituents of opium. Why is it considered an opioid?
  16. There are at least four different legal forms of medical fentanyl marketed in the US. Describe the different forms. Provide names of products for each form.
  17. Assuming that Fentanyl is on the order of 100 times more potent than morphine; and 3-Methylfentanyl is estimated to be about 1000 times more potent than morphine; and Carfentanyl is about 10,000 times more potent than morphine.
    • How likely is it that these substances will be detected and identified by GCMS, using your laboratory’s routine sample preparation and analysis procedures for an unknown powder suspected to contain heroin?
    • What steps can be taken to ensure that each of these analytes will be detected and identified using GCMS? Assume powders are homogeneous mixtures for the purpose of this question. (Is this a realistic assumption for street samples?)
  18. List three medical uses of benzodiazepines.
  19. Does your laboratory’s case acceptance policy distinguish between substances legislatively controlled for possession as compared to those controlled only for sales or distribution?
  20. Since hydromorphone is amphoteric, will it be water soluble in strong acid or strong base?
  21. How can time-release formulations be best prepared for injection into a GCMS?
  22. Give several examples of routinely encountered drugs or pharmaceuticals that will not be identified conclusively by GCMS analysis alone. What additional analytical techniques will facilitate identification of the controlled substances present in them?
  23. Describe how to prepare a sample for analysis by GCMS, where the exhibit consists of one tablet containing 250 mg of acetaminophen and 5 mg of hydrocodone.
  24. A clear viscous liquid is submitted for analysis. What extraction scheme and tests would you conduct? If using a GC/MS what parameters are considered? (hint: MeOH, add one drop of hexane and the MeOH is insoluble in aqueous)
  25. A reddish orange liquid is submitted. What could it be? What extraction scheme and tests would you perform? (methadone, CHCl 3 extraction)
  26. A clear liquid is submitted. Weight is crucial. How would you weigh the item and present a scheme of analysis.
  27. A coated tablet is submitted, the officer suspects MDMA. What is your initial suspicion?
  28. A non-coated tablet is submitted having a design on one side. Color tests are negative. What additional tests are performed?
  29. What appears to be a crushed tablet is submitted for testing. What extraction, tests and other considerations are deliberated?
  30. Under what trade names was methaqualone sold?
  31. What class of sedative-hypnotics is the most widely used in the United States?

Last Update June 2022

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